Well over half of Gozo-based, tourism-dependent businesses have reported an improved performance in 2022 when compared to 2021, however almost half say they will be invariably putting up their prices due to inflation – in particular the hefty 2023 Cost Of Living Adjustment (COLA).

During the past fortnight, the Gozo Tourism Association conducted an online survey amongst its members focusing on the performance of the Gozitan tourism establishments during the first nine months of 2022, the summer season, as well as on issues related to the Government Budget for 2023.

The encouraging response to this survey from Gozitan tourism operators covered a spread across the tourism sector on Gozo. The categories that filled in the survey were coming from; accommodation, restaurants, diving centres, tourist attractions, transport, tour operators, DMCs, travel agencies, real estate and tourism consultancy firms.

The survey confirmed the positive effect on business generated by the Gozitan tourism establishments during the January to September period, showing encouraging signs that 2022 is going to be really and truly the recovery year.

69 per cent of establishments surveyed reported more business than the previous nine months of 2021, with 21 per cent stated that their performance was equal to that of the first nine months 2021, while 10 per cent reported less business than the period of 2021.

This improvement was corroborated further when 62 per cent of respondents declared that the performance of their respective businesses during the summer months was better than that of the same period of 2021, with 28 per cent stating that the performance of their business was equal to that of the summer period of 2021.

The respondents of this survey were also asked their opinion about the Budget for 2023. More than one third of participants, 35 per cent declared that their businesses will be affected positively as Government will continue to subsidise energy bills, while 31 per cent stated that not enough direct measures towards tourism were included.

On the other hand, 14 per cent stated that the COLA wage increase is a tough measure for their establishment. When respondents were asked if they will be increasing their prices and rates to cover for the COLA wage increase, 45 per cent stated that they will definitely increase them, while an another 45 per cent declared that no increases will be introduced to cover for the 2023 COLA wage increase.

The COLA announced for 2023 as part of the Budget was set at €9.90.

79 per cent of tourism operators reiterated that the Budget measure which will have the most positive effect on their business is the subsidisation of energy bills. While 10 per cent of the survey participants welcomed positively the cash grant fund for small and medium enterprises, the remainder mentioned the rent subsidies.

When asked which Budget measure related to Gozo will affect their business positively, 67 per cent of respondents chose the scheme to attract tourists for long stays during the winter months.

While 11 per cent of the survey participants stated that the building of the rural airfield will be beneficial to their business. Other positive measures with regards to Gozo were those connected with the public service obligation contract of the fast ferry 4 per cent and the funds allocated to Gozo for urban development eight per cent.

Finally, from this survey it transpired that 69 per cent of respondents are envisaging the same level of business for 2023, with another 13 per cent are predicting better results in 2023 on this year. However, 10 per cent stated that due to several issues such as inflation, they are predicting less business in 2023 when compared to 2022.

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