Tourism started off strong in 2023, with a total of 136,167 tourists having visited the country in January, spending over a million nights between them, beating pre-COVID-19 figures.
Data made available by the National Statistics Office (NSO) shows that inbound tourism in January 2023 grew by 127.95 per cent compared to the previous year, and the number of nights spent grew by 79 per cent.
This disparity between the growth of tourists arriving and nights spent is reflected in a drop in the average length of stay, which fell from 9.7 in January 2022, to 7.6 in January 2023.
Meanwhile, total expenditure per capita by inbound tourists in January 2023 decreased to €727.8 from €785.9 in 2022, however, the total expenditure per night increased to €96.1 from €81.4.
This means that while tourists spent fewer days in Malta, they spent more money each day they were here. The outcome is an increase in overall expenditure of 111 per cent.
When looking at where tourists came from, nearly half of all tourists came from just three countries, Italy, the UK and Poland.
In relative terms, the number of first-time tourists grew by much more than the number of repeat tourists. While in 2022 the share of first-time tourists was 66.14 per cent, in 2023 the share grew to 74.14 per cent.
To summarise, compared to 2022, inbound tourism grew by 127.95 per cent, nights spent grew by 79 per cent and overall expenditure increased by 111 per cent.
Overall the data demonstrates that tourism in January has arguably recovered from the pandemic.
In January 2020, a couple of months before the pandemic reached Malta, the total number of tourists to have arrived in Malta was over 150,131.
While there were more tourists in 2020 than in 2023, they spent fewer nights that year, falling short of a million nights spent. This is also reflected in the fact that tourists spent 6.3 nights on average in Malta in 2020, 1.3 nights less than in 2023.
Total expenditure by tourists in 2023 also surpassed that of 2022. However, to what extent that is attributed to inflation is not clear.
If this overall trend persists in 2023, it could be said that the drop in tourism attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic will become a subject of the past.
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