Hospitality hotel room pexels

According to new data from the National Statistics Office (NSO), four-star hotels saw the greatest decreases in terms of both total visitors, and total nights spent by visitors in Q1 2021 compared to Q1 2020, pre-COVID. 

In terms of nights spent, four-star hotels were especially hard hit. Between January and March of this year, 89,908 nights were spent at this category of hotel, down from 679,215 in the same period a year before, according to the NSO data. This represents a decline of almost 87 per cent.

On the other hand, the number of nights spent at five and three-star hotels declined by 65 per cent and 66 per cent respectively.

In terms of total guests, the difference was less pronounced, though four-star hotels were still the hardest hit. During the period, four-star hotels welcomed 31,394 visitors, whereas in Q1 2020 they welcomed 147,072 – showing a decline of nearly 79 per cent. 

On the other hand, the number of guests visiting five and three-star hotels declined by 64 per cent and 74 per cent, respectively, year-on-year.

When compared to the previous quarter, Q4 2020, four-star hotels were the hardest hit, with total nights spent falling by more than half at the hotels, as international travel restrictions once again decimated international travel.

Total nights spentRelative quarterly declineRelative year-on-year decline
Five-Star hotels65,324– 19 per cent – 65 per cent
Four-Star hotels89,908– 51 per cent – 87 per cent
Three-Star hotels104,865– 22 per cent– 66 per cent

It is, however, notable that despite the high relative decline, four-star hotels still recorded the highest number of guests and nights spent, with three-star hotels recording the second-highest in both cases.

According to the NSO report on collective accommodation, four-star hotels were operating at 7.8 per cent of capacity, in terms of bed-places available. 

For five and three-star hotels, this figure was 10.5 per cent and 13.3 per cent, respectively.

This decline came as fears of a new COVID variant, and an international second-wave of the virus, saw countries introduce broad travel restrictions. 

As such, it was non-resident guests totals which declined by the greatest proportion. Only 29,696 non-resident guests stayed at hotels in the first quarter of this year, down from 232,978 in the same quarter of 2020.

In terms of Malta’s residents, the number who stayed at hotels was much more stable, falling from 48,275 in Q1 2020 to 44,373 in Q1 2021.

Historical figures for collective accommodation. Source: Collective Accommodation Establishments: Q1/2021

This decline was mostly led by three-star hotels, where more than 5,000 fewer residents stayed in Q1 2021 than a year before. 

In terms of four and five-star hotels, more local guests stayed in Q1 2021 than 2020.

Regional breakdown

On a regional level, total guests in Malta numbered 74,332, down by 74.7 per cent over the first quarter of 2020. Additionally, a decrease of 77.8 per cent was recorded in the number of nights spent. Gozo and Comino also registered a decrease in total guests and nights spent by 36.6 per cent and 49.0 per cent, to 7,063 and 14,717 respectively.

When compared to the same quarter of the previous year, in Malta, the average length of stay went down by 0.5 of a night to 3.9 nights. In Gozo and Comino the average length of stay also decreased by 0.5 of a night to 2.1 nights.

The net occupancy rate in Malta decreased by 27.9 percentage points, reaching 10.1 per cent, and that in Gozo and Comino decreased by 8.9 percentage points to 12.4 per cent.

The figures come as Malta prepares to welcome tourists from next week.

The Government has launched assistance measures for the badly impacting industry, including reimbursements of various values available for those staying at three, four, and five-star hotels, with the highest being awarded to those staying at the higher-starred hotels.

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