Flight airplane tourism

Total tourism expenditure so far this year in Malta is estimated to have stood at €120.4 million, representing a decrease of 46.4 per cent compared to the same period in 2020.

This figure, released on Thursday by the National Statistics Office (NSO), reflects a bleak outlook for the tourism industry, once again facing the brunt of COVID travel restrictions and changes in travel habits.

Inbound tourists during the first six months of 2021 decreased further than expenditure, falling by 62.3 per cent year-on-year to hit 139,687.

This divergence means that the average tourist is spending more in Malta than they would have last year, an increase which the NSO puts down to a longer average length of stay.

Total average expenditure per capita in the half stood at €862, up from €607 a year earlier.

During June specifically, as Malta officially reopened to tourists, a total of 59,629 inbound tourists are said to have visited Malta for holiday purposes, and 6,606 visited for business purposes.

Regarding the demographics of arrivals, 48.4 per cent of arrivals fell in the 25 to 45 age bracket, and French and Italian residents were the largest groups of inbound tourists, comprising 34.4 per cent of the total.

The average length of stay for inbound tourists stood at 9.1 nights and total tourist expenditure during the month hit €60.1 million.

Non-existent tourism levels in June 2020 make comparisons difficult, but when compared to the pre-COVID period, the figures are troubling.

A total of 251,747 holidaymakers were welcomed in June 2019, and total tourist expenditure was estimated to have stood at €235.4 million – nearly twice the figure for all of this year so far.

These figures will ring alarm bells for those in the hospitality industry and stakeholders in Malta’s wider economy alike.

In the retail industry, declining tourism numbers have been cited as contributing to a disappointing period for the sector, with sales volumes remaining low.

Stakeholders will now be looking forward to July’s data to learn the impact both of Malta being added to the UK green list for international travel in late June, and the introduction of a requirement to present a vaccine certificate or quarantine for all those travelling into Malta in mid-July.

Some, including Malta International Airport and Air Malta, have warned that the travel restrictions have already had a significant impact on the arrivals into the country, with the airline reporting a dramatic increase in the number of ticket cancellations as the restrictions were announced.

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