The Malta Independent 22 July 2024, Monday
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Tourism industry has ‘fully recovered’ from pandemic losses, projected to exceed 2019 levels – PM

Semira Abbas Shalan Wednesday, 6 December 2023, 11:57 Last update: about 9 months ago

Prime Minister Robert Abela said on Wednesday that the tourism industry has not only ‘fully recovered’ from the losses suffered during the Covid-19 pandemic but is also on track for a new record year which exceeds the levels of tourism activity registered in the previous record year of 2019.

Speaking at the Malta National Tourism Conference at the Malta Tourism, Abela said that this recovery is not something to be taken lightly.

He quoted data published by the World Tourism Organisation last week, which said that international tourism is recovering and is on track to reach the end of the year, recovering close to 90% of pre-pandemic levels in terms of tourist movement.

Europe has also not yet fully recovered and reached 2019 levels, but it is almost fully recovered, having reached 94% of pre-pandemic levels in 2023.

Abela said that this showed that Malta’s performance is beyond average, and is “actually classified as an over-performance, that can only be attributed to the hard work we have all carried out to get here.”

He continued that Malta is a beautiful island with much to offer, and the diverse package it offers makes it attractive for tourists to visit.

Abela said that to enrich further this tourist experience, and provide a better quality product, government must invest in the human capital of this industry and needed decisions will be taken to ensure that Malta’s product provides value-added to visitors in the country.

“Today, we are a year-round destination that performs on the basis of its own merits,” Abela said.

He said that Malta is a destination which is diligently modelling its tourism industry on the basis of a clear Tourism Strategy, which aims to ensure that the country stands out as a high quality, authentic experience.

Abela added that the National Tourism Strategy places sustainability as one of its core principles, which have led to vast improvements in the quality of life of the world’s citizens, but has also led to negative impacts, including climate change, the need to shift to zero emissions, and balancing economic growth with social and environmental wellbeing.

He encouraged all to work together to reach targets, mentioning the terminal expansion project by Malta International Airport launched last month, which will lead to “a quantum leap in quality,” and an investment which gives due priority to becoming climate neutral.

This same investment in the tourism product has been recently showcased in other major projects, Abela said, adding that enriching the tourist experience by investing in high quality accommodation gives Malta a competitive edge and gives an added value to its product.

“This unwavering support is a vote of confidence in our economic vision, which is reaping results year on year, with another positive economic outlook for 2024,” Abela said, adding that the country must strive for a new prosperity.

Malta Tourism Observatory CEO Carlo Micallef presented the Malta Tourism Authority’s 360o marketing strategy, which was focused on enhancing its brand.

He spoke about the brand’s campaign in promoting Malta to as many countries as possible, to attract tourists. Micallef said that throughout the coming winter campaign, the focus will be to attract tourists with a higher income bracket, as well as focusing on Malta’s art, history, active lifestyle, experiential travel, gastronomy, education, and health-consciousness.

Statistics acquired on the engagement rate on social media between the period of 1 January and 9 December of this year showed an increase in the engagement rate from that of 2022. In 2022, the average of engagement rate of VisitMalta – the website promoting travelling to the island - across Facebook, Instagram and X (formerly Twitter) was that of 1.1%.

This has increased across all social media platforms in 2023, with an engagement rate of 5% average.

Micallef said that the winter growth capacity for winter 2023-2024 is projected to increase in capacity by 20% than that of winter 2022-2023, with tourists increasing in Germany, Poland and the UK, and will target couples with double incomes, medium to higher income demographics, young professionals as well as solo travellers.

For the summer aviation prospects, Micallef said that there is a planned increase in routes and frequencies for Summer 2024 and will be finalising plans due to prevailing lateness in the Aviation sector. Overall, there is a positive outlook for summer operations.

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