The Malta Independent 4 August 2020, Tuesday

Target of 700,000 tourists by the end of 2020 includes pre-COVID numbers

Karl Azzopardi Thursday, 2 July 2020, 14:21 Last update: about 1 month ago

Tourism Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli said that the 700,000 target number of tourists that Malta is expected to experience by the end of 2020 includes pre-COVID numbers.

During the reopening of the Malta International Airport (MIA) on Wednesday, and on other occasions in which the tourism sector's recovery plan was being discussed, Minister Farrugia Portelli stated that the ministry is expecting to see 700,000 tourists visiting our islands by the end of 2020.

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However, this caused some confusion as to whether this number refers to the amount of tourists Malta will be experiencing starting from the reopening of the MIA or if it also includes the tourists that came in at the start of the year; that is, from January to mid-March prior to the travel ban which was introduced to avoid imported COVID-19 cases.

The Malta Independent asked for clarification on this and the minister confirmed that the speculated number refers to the total amount of tourists they are expecting in 2020 as a whole - "we are aiming that during this year, 2020, we will have at least 700,000 tourists who will visit our islands."

This newsroom also asked about how much in losses the government is expecting to see within the restaurant and hotel sectors seeing that they were heavily impacted throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and will be facing a tough road towards recovery.

"Rather than looking at losses, we are focusing on how we will keep this industry alive and running so as to safeguard employment," she said.

"This has been one of the primary concepts that we have seen being implemented over the past few months through the financial aid we gave to restaurants in Malta and Gozo. Now we are moving on to the next step wherein families will start receiving vouchers to be directly injected into these restaurants," she added.

Farrugia Portelli explained that this aid will balance out restaurants' profits between internal tourism as well as external tourism which is being revitalised now that the MIA has reopened.

The airport was shut on 20 March as Malta moved to curb the importation of cases of Covid-19, but, after 103 days closed, reopened to tourist flights on Wednesday from a limited number of destinations.

Until the 15 of July, the airport will only be receiving flights from ‘safe corridor’ destinations which include, Italy (Sardinia and Sicily only), Iceland, Slovakia, Cyprus, Lithuania, France, Latvia, Norway, Switzerland, Estonia, Denmark, Hungary, Austria, Luxembourg, Germany, Czech Republic, Finland and Ireland.

The airlines operating the routes are Air Malta, Ryanair, Lufthansa, Wizz Air, Swiss Air, and Luxair. 

The airport will open to flights from all destinations as from 15 July, including the UK which has had its doubt about putting Malta on its green list.

The Tourism Minster has said that British travel agency statistics have shown that there has been a spike in demand over the past two weeks for UK citizens who wish to come to Malta, and the numbers are pretty much on par with those of 2019.

 

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