The Malta Independent 19 June 2021, Saturday

TMID Editorial: UK green list - A huge blow for Maltese tourism

Monday, 10 May 2021, 10:12 Last update: about 2 months ago

Last Friday saw the announcement of Malta being left off the United Kingdom’s green travel list – news which has come as a major shock for tourism stakeholders in the country.

The shock is well-founded.  Many, including British-based travel experts, had touted Malta to be on the UK’s green list – which will allow quarantine-free travel – given the country’s exceptional rate of vaccination and the low number of Covid-19 cases being registered.

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The MHRA said that it was “surprised” at the decision, agreeing with the general opinion being expressed by the major British travel and tourism stakeholders that the decision to put so few European countries into the green tier is not justified by the data or the science.

The government itself – although it is yet to pronounce itself officially on the matter – must also be smarting from the blow, knowing that the UK is by far Malta’s biggest tourist market and given the significant effort and schemes – including paying tourists to travel to Malta – being introduced in order to attract tourists to the country.

That is all part of the mantra that the government has been following, in that Prime Minister Robert Abela has promised that the country will come flying out of the blocks in summer as the vaccination drive across Europe kicks up a notch.

With Malta being in pole position to be the first country in Europe to achieve herd immunity, and with tourism set to open in less than a month, one probably couldn’t fault the Prime Minister’s optimism.

However, this news may well put a lot of positive hopes in jeopardy.

The MHRA warned that the decision will definitely leave a negative impact on the tourism sector in Malta at least for June – not exactly what they would have been hoping for after so many months of adverse economic circumstances because of the pandemic – and the loss of a month of what is usually peak tourism could have significant, and permanent, effects on some businesses who were already finding it hard to continue.

The same day did see some positive news, with Germany declaring Malta as no longer being a Covid-19 risk area – but realistically, this is scant consolation if the UK touristic market does not open up.

Of course, this situation is not the Maltese government’s fault.

However, we join with the MHRA in their appeal to the government and the Maltese diplomatic corps to take all the necessary action to ensure that Malta is featured in the UK’s green list as soon as possible.

Damage has already been done, but if Malta is included in the green list come the next review – which is in just under three weeks – then there is still a lot to salvage.

 

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