Total cruise passenger traffic during the first quarter of 2021 amounted to 7,966 passengers, a decrease of 80.2 per cent over the same period in 2020, according to National Statistic Office (NSO) data released on Wednesday.
Notably, however, during Q1 there were nine cruise liner calls in Malta, which is the same number as in the corresponding quarter of 2020, illustrating a dramatic decrease in the number of people on each cruise, rather than just a lack of ships calling.
The NSO data indicates that the vessels that berthed in Malta carried an average of 885 passengers, which is 3,579 less than was the case in the same quarter in the previous year – which was the last quarter before holiday travel was seriously disrupted by the COVID pandemic.
EU nationals comprised the vast majority of passengers during the period under review, with 94.7 per cent of the total, and the country with the largest individual share of passengers was Italy, which accounted for 73.5 per cent of the total.
The largest share of the aforementioned 80.2 per cent decrease in passengers came from a 97.7 per cent decline in non-EU passengers, whereas the number of EU passengers decreased by 64.9 per cent in Q1 2021, when compared to Q1 2020.
Whilst these declines are clearly substantial, the comparison with Q1 of 2020, when the impacts of the pandemic began to show, bringing passenger numbers for March to near-zero, means the data does not allow for a genuine comparison with pre-pandemic conditions.
For context, passenger numbers in Q1 of 2020 were themselves down 48.5 per cent on the same figure for the corresponding quarter in 2019.
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