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Minister for Tourism Clayton Bartolo’s announcement last week that the Government would be running an aggressive campaign in the UK marketing Malta as a summer holiday destination seems to have come at the time, with a UK cabinet member indicating that foreign travel would reopen by mid-May.

While announcing the Tourism Recovery Plan to prop up Malta’s ailing tourism sector, Minister Bartolo declared that the campaign, using a mix of traditional and digital media, will use the experience gained over the last years “to convey the narrative that, as the world exits from the pandemic, our country is an ideal one to visit and, while observing health measures, enjoy a holiday like only Malta can offer.”

Hopes of a strong reopening may yet come to fruition. On Friday, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said that people in England can start thinking about booking foreign holidays again for this summer.

UK Tourists in Malta consistently dominated the market in pre-COVID conditions, as the following National Statistic Chart shows.

Mr Schapps was announcing the findings of a taskforce set up by the government to examine how leisure travel could be reopened safely after lockdown

He said that foreign holidays would resume on 17th May “at the earliest”.

He told the BBC: “This is the first time I’m able to come on and say I’m not advising against booking foreign holidays.”

Mr Shapps also gave more details on how the traffic light system would work, indicating that passengers would need to take tests before leaving and on returning, even from those countries marked as low-risk.

However, he warned that the cost of testing was too expensive, and indicated that his ministry is trying to drive them down.

There will also be a watch list for countries most at risk of going from green to amber to provide greater assurance for those looking to travel abroad.

“Yes, you’ll want to check what the situation is in two or three weeks’ time when that list – the green, amber, red, is produced – you’ll want to know that you’ve got good holiday insurance and flexible flights and the rest of it,” said the British cabinet member.

He continued, “But for the first time I think there is light at the end of the tunnel and we’ll be able to restart international travel, including cruises by the way, in a safe and secure way, knowing about the vaccinations, everything we know about the disease this year, and of course that abundance of caution – having the tests in place.”

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