School class room

Next week, the Government will be announcing an aid scheme, forming part of its tourism recovery plan, specifically targeted at Malta’s English Language Schools.

Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo shared the news at a press conference announcing the lifting of MTA license fees for all operators during 2021.

A series of targeted aid measures have already been announced, aimed at boosting niche tourism sectors, including one scheme related to diving centres, and another related to sports tourism.

Students coming to Malta to learn English as a foreign language is considered to be an important sector for the island, generating significant activity for a variety of businesses, such as accommodation, eateries, entertainment and leisure.

In normal circumstances, Malta attracts around 83,000 to 87,000 foreign students each year. The Federation of English Language Teaching Schools (FELTOM) said that in 2019 alone, the total spend of ELT students in Malta was close to €200 million.

Currently, language schools are only being permitted to offer remote learning and have taken the 1st June target date for reopening to tourism as its own date for reopening physically to students. FELTOM has argued that its members are being discriminated against and risk losing out target markets should the remote learning measure remain in effect.

In a statement issued on Tuesday by FELTOM, the reopening of Malta to international tourism on 1st June is a welcome move, and that thanks to intensive marketing efforts, it can confirm 10,711 student arrivals for the second and third quarter of 2021.

FELTOM said that each student booking means an average stay of three weeks. It collected the figures via a survey of its own members this week.

According to the survey however, the extended closure that continued to be imposed on English language schools also led to 2,124 cancellations. Schools also reported an additional 2,849 English language learners who have postponed their travel plans indefinitely.

“The English language teaching industry in Malta has, for the past 14 months, experienced financial devastation with no end in sight. The industry has been respectful of and compliant with Government measures from the start and has been lobbying with Government for financial aid for weeks to ensure that the businesses, which contribute so much to Malta’s economy, will survive,” said Rebecca Bonnici, FELTOM’s Chairperson.

“We feel that if the ELT industry continues to be discriminated against, these 10,711 bookings, together with the potential 2,807 that have postponed their travels, will be lost to competing markets which have started to open their doors to ELT students, effectively putting the last nails in the industry’s coffin,”

The markets being targeted by FELTOM’s member schools include Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Belgium, Colombia, Chile, Japan, Russia, South Korea and Turkey.

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