The number of Americans planning to travel to Europe has skyrocketed thanks to a relatively weaker Euro and the release of pent-up demand brought on by COVID-19. But are the American coming to Malta?
Malta’s airport is currently riding a high having just closed off its busiest quarter on record, putting the country in pole-position to potentially surpass its pre-pandemic tourism figures.
Meanwhile the travel website Kayak has noted that searches for travel to Europe from the USA, have increased by 77 per cent compared to 2022 according to Reuters, with other travel websites indicating similar leaps in interest.
A spike in transatlantic flights are both a challenge and opportunity for European airports, as they need to ensure they have the workforce capacity to meet demand, and sufficient dedicated runway to accommodate transatlantic flights.
Today, if you go to Rome, Paris or Lisbon, American tourists would be hard to miss, but what about Malta?
Malta is not a well known destination for holidaying Americans, in part due to a lack of direct flights between the two countries, but that hasn’t stopped them from visiting.
This is more than double the number of American tourists that arrived in 2022 during the same period, which is understandable since the world was still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, it worth noting that the total number of nights spent by American tourists was lower in 2023 than 2022.
The 1,478 American tourists who arrived in Malta in January and February 2022 spent a total of 26,017 nights between them. This is equivalent to a whopping 17.6 nights spent per tourist.
Meanwhile this year, 3,351 American tourists spent a total of 24,853 nights between them during the first two months. This is equivalent to 7.4 nights per tourist, a significant drop when compared to the previous year.
When turning to total expenditure it is evident that, while Americans are taking shorter holidays in Malta, they are spending more money each day they are here.
During the first two months of 2023, American tourists spent an average of €1,227 per capita during their trip, with an average of €165.8 spent each day.
Meanwhile, during the first two months of 2022, American tourists spent an average of €1,574 per capita, with an average of €89.4 spent each day. This is due to the total amount of money spent being diluted by the larger number of days spent in Malta.
In both instances, Americans outspend the average tourist visiting Malta.
Yet, while overall this is an increase in American tourists, 2023 will not necessarily be a bumper year.
The total number of American tourists Malta received during the first two months of 2020, right before the pandemic broke out, was 5,860. Between them they spent 25,523 nights (4.35 on average) and spent €979.6 each (€225.1 per night).
Furthermore in 2019, Americans represented only 1.8 per cent of all inbound tourists, and 1.77 per cent in 2022. During the first two months of 2023, Americans represented 1.27 per cent of all inbound tourists.
However, this is not necessarily indicative of a downward trend, since during the first two months of 2022, 1.18 per cent of tourists were American. It is more indicative to the fact that the bulk of tourists from USA come at a later stage during the year.
Overall, the data demonstrate that Malta is still not a hot destination for American tourists, but it doesn’t mean it should ignore them.
Since the only way Americans can get to Malta is with a connecting flight they’re more likely to be wealthier than the average tourist, and more likely to spend more nights.
If Malta were to establish direct flights with the USA it might have to expand its runway to accommodate for the specific types of aircraft making transatlantic flights.
Nevertheless, it is evident that if Malta's airport were to gridlock this year, it would not be due to Americans.
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