The Malta Independent 22 March 2019, Friday

18 million plus in 2018

Monday, 11 February 2019, 16:10 Last update: about 2 months ago

Alex Cutajar

18.6 million bed nights in 2018 is an achievement all stakeholders within Malta’s thriving tourism industry should be very proud of.

The increases are significant from all our core markets. The UK market rose from almost 526,000 in 2015 to over 640,00 last year. Italy rose from close to 283,000 to almost 391,000, and Germany from 141,000 to 226,000, again comparing 2015 to 2018.

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Increases were also substantial from other destinations including the USA, France and very notably Spain. The USA is now officially one of our top ten markets in terms of visitors in 2018.

Compared to those who compete with us for bed nights it is significant that we are as a country are reaching our targets of reducing seasonal differences in tourist arrivals and bed nights. In fact as a destination we have had the least seasonality of any of our close competitor.as our shoulder months continue to grow and visitors recognise Malta’s potential for a short or longer stay in the winter months too.

These significant increases have been helped no doubt by the ever-increasing volume of competitively priced airfares from Europe, which we as a people also benefit from in our travels abroad too.

Is no secret that the Malta International Airport registers year on year increases, both outbound and inbound and this success story needs to be told and enjoyed as so many benefit from the increasing number of visitors from all over the world.

As a people we also benefit tangibly from an increasing number of destinations to travel to as well as cost savings due to keen competition from all the airlines that fly here and have made Malta home.

2019 is also looking good so far, though there is of course the all important and potentially impactful result of Brexit. The unknown is difficult to plan for, and this is a challenge for us all in Malta as well as our competitors who enjoy such strong bed night results from the UK.

As other economies such as Ireland may be influenced by a hard Brexit or a no deal Brexit, there may well be challenges from countries besides the UK.

It is also important to note that tourist expenditure has grown so substantially from 2010 to an impressive doubling in recent years.

Connectivity has also increased considerivley during the past two years and thus markets are being more diversified. This was directly due to Minister Konrad Mizzi’s push towards this strategy.

2018 saw a substantial increase of 22 new destination routes, and 2019 has so far another 1new destinations planned for our visitors which we can also enjoy.

We have really never benefitted so much before from this increased connectivity, and since this is the key to sustaining our numbers and diversifying and reducing seasonal differences the importance of the work undertaken by the Minister in this regard cannot be underestimated.

It appears that the positive news is continuing in 2019.

In January alone a substantial 366,000 visitors passed through the Malta International Airport. January showed a 4.1% increase in passenger numbers and a 6.3% increase in aircraft movements. The increase in seat capacity though was 7.3%, a positive figure for what is traditionally one of the weaker months in visitor arrivals.

Of particular note in the arrivals from Spain in January increased by an unprecedented 87% and France grew by a healthy 12% too. Two different airlines operated new routes from Seville, Malaga and Barcelona which all contributed to this rise.

Increases also registered from Hungary as a new route and destination. The Hungarian market grew by over 42% since the Budapest route was extended into the winter months. A new flight route from Debrecen Hungary is expected to boost and sustain these positive increases.

18 million plus bed nights in 2018 is both a memorable figure and a figure to be proud of.

The Ministry is focused on increasing connectivity, increasing numbers of arrivals and increasing the benefits, both directly and indirectly tangible of a continued boost to our tourism product.

 

Alex Cutajar

Head of Communications and Marketing – Ministry for Tourism

 

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