The Malta Independent 28 January 2023, Saturday
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TMID Editorial: Tourism industry back on track

Thursday, 8 December 2022, 08:00 Last update: about 3 months ago

Figures published by the National Statistics Office earlier this week show that more than two million people visited Malta in the first 10 months of this year.

This was more or less 435,000 short of the 2,435,485 arrivals registered in the pre Covid days in 2019, but it was a much healthier number compared to the 631,636 people who arrived in 2020 and 777,356 in 2021, at the height of the pandemic.

It means that the tourism industry is getting back on its feet after two years of stress and difficulty. We have not reached 2019 levels yet, but it is clear that we are on the road to pre-pandemic years.

The tourism industry was one sector of the economy that suffered really badly at the time of the pandemic. With so many restrictions, including difficulties to travel, people renounced to their holidays abroad.

This meant that hotels needed to be closed, at least in part, and staff had to be released. Many hotels survived thanks to the financial assistance that was provided by the government at the time. Others took the opportunity to carry out some refurbishment work. But many struggled. It was certainly not an easy time.

The year which is about to close has seen a return to what many describe as normality. The numbers are going up again, people have overcome their fear of travelling, restaurants are now back in full swing, and the difficult Covid days seem to be over.

We still feel the need to pass on a word of caution for people to remain vigilant and take care; it will take so little to go back to the hard days. There are countries which are still fighting hard to keep the virus under control, and others who have unfortunately registered a steady increase in the number of cases, which mean that restrictions had to be re-introduced.

We will soon be speaking of needing to keep the country competing well against other destinations. And although the numbers being recorded this year are satisfactory, it will probably take another year for them to return to what they were in 2019.

In the meantime, we must point out that Malta is a country that has changed so much in the last decade or so. It has become overcrowded, traffic issues continue to multiply, ugly buildings have sprouted at every corner and unfortunately it has become less organised and certainly dirtier than it was not so long ago.

There was also a time when Malta was considered to be a safe country. We are losing out on that too.

It’s a real pity that we cannot seem to take care of it as we should. Malta is no longer the charming, picturesque, secure place that it used to be.

With so many places to go, and with connectivity improving to all corners of the globe, we risk losing the edge over other countries and destinations who have managed to retain their beauty.

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