The Malta Independent 30 March 2023, Thursday
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Strong recovery in 2022, but Zahra warns that Air Malta’s survival is crucial for the hotel industry

Sabrina Zammit Wednesday, 1 February 2023, 17:28 Last update: about 3 months ago

Air Malta remains crucial for this country’s connectivity, with the President of Malta’s hotel lobby warning that despite the industry seeing a strong recovery in 2022; it could be in jeopardy if the national airline were to fold.

“If [hotel owners and investors in the industry] are going to put money in the industry, make sure you have something unique and good to offer”, Malta Hotel’s and Restaurant Association President Tony Zahra said on Wednesday.


Zahra was speaking during the MHRA’s presentation of the BOV-Deloitte Hotels' Quarterly Performance Review for the overall and fourth quarter results of year 2022.

“If you are going to undercut the industry will only land you into failure and bring down some of the others, but the strong will remain there”, he said, addressing hotel owners.

Leading the presentation was Deloitte Financial Advisory Leader Raphael Aloisio. He said that overall 2022 was a difficult first quarter; however tourist arrivals started to increase during the other three quarters of the year.

Overall, tourists landing in Malta for 2022 reached 83% of the last pre-pandemic year in 2019.

He added that overall guest nights reached 85.4% of 2019 levels and that the average length of stay in 2022 was just a little bit longer than that recorded in 2019. The average daily tourist expenditure was €121.86, 9.4% more than the amount recorded in 2019. Nearly 91% more money was spent by tourists overall in 2022 than was spent during the same period in 2019.

Overall, 2022's statistics show a considerable rebound, but profitability is still lower than that of the previous year. The greater supply of lodging and an overall increase in expenses can be used to explain the causes of this outcome.

According to Zahra, the hotel industry is on the right track to recovery, but in order to maintain momentum and return to 2019 performance levels as soon as possible, it's critical to recognise the new difficulties that lie ahead.

In order to emphasise the value of sustainability, he mentioned the difficulties associated with rising housing costs and supplies, which could have an effect on levels of profitability. Zahra explained how crucial it was for the government to decide to handle the rise in energy prices since, in the absence of that action, the situation would have been tremendously difficult, as is seen in other nations.

He said that he has colleagues in the United Kingdom where, due the rise in energy costs, instead of paying €300,000 in bills they are now paying €1.1 million “and it is affecting their profitability.”

In addition, Zahra underscored the need for connectivity by mentioning recent events at Air Malta and stressing how important it is for Air Malta to maintain operations. He further explained that Air Malta is crucial to the long-term viability of the MICE industry (a key contributor to the performance of hotels especially during the winter season).

Minister for Tourism Clayton Bartolo also addressed the conference and stated that “the facts speak for themselves. As it were, our tourism industry had received the best possible financial vaccine against the Covid-19 pandemic. The recovery results are truly proving this.”

“To ensure more success we will work harder to bolster air connectivity, sustain the MTA's marketing efforts in primary and secondary source markets, while pursuing our investment in the regeneration of tourism hot spots to assure that Malta continues to elevate its hospitality experience in the years to come,” Bartolo concluded.

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