Confirmation of Gozo’s reopening for domestic as well as international tourism has led to a surge in bookings for the island’s accommodation providers, while targeted measures for tourists staying at hotels and those coming to practise a particular sport have also had an impact, with operators across the board reporting increased interest.
The Minister for Tourism had announced that Malta would be ready to start the peak summer season for tourism from 1st June, while the reopening of Gozo to domestic visitors was announced by Prime Minister Robert Abela as from 10th May.
Non-essential travel to Gozo had been banned from 11th March in response to a rapid spike of daily COVID transmissions.
Joe Muscat, CEO of the Gozo Tourism Association, confirmed that bookings were arriving from this date onwards, saying that the clarity gave a much-needed boost to the island’s economy.
“Before, nobody could confirm anything. Everything was up in the air, whether we’re talking about near-term or long-term plans.”
“Now,” he continued, “operators are able to confirm requests made previously. The demand is there, and it’s being felt.”
He added that targeted measures like those for divers had generated additional interest in certain markets, singling out England and France as countries whose divers were exhibiting great interest in a Gozo holiday.
Government announced €100 vouchers for tourists who visit Malta and Gozo’s diving centres specifically.
He hopes that traditional core markets for tourists are themselves in a better position come 1st June, noting that the UK’s move to the amber zone of countries was another positive step.
“We can definitely say there is interest, and the measures are having an effect. We hope that all stakeholders are in a position to capitalize on these improved conditions,” he said.
Donald Said, reservations manager for Baron Holiday Homes, said they had seen a spike in bookings from 10th May for local tourists and from 1st June for foreign ones.
He said that the company was planning to use the assistance provided to self-catering accommodation, whereby funds are made available for such establishments to improve their marketing efforts, noting that “every drop helps”.
A representative for the Kempinsky Hotel meanwhile said that it was receiving “loads” of reservations, with many asking for more information on the tourist subsidy scheme announced by the Government.
“They’re really interested,” she said, “and many want to make a reservation because of it.”
In its first scheme as part of the tourism recovery plan, authorities announced a subsidy for 35,000 tourists who book directly with Malta’s five, four and three-star hotels.
Boosting heads in beds, does not correlate with an improvement in quality.
The Malta Tourism Authority will provide local councils with information about owners of holiday premises