Travel

In November 2020, inbound tourism expenditure was down by a staggering €123 million (to €13.2 million), or 90.3 per cent when compared to the same month in 2019, official data shows.

As per statistics released by the National Statistics Office, in the period from January to November, tourist expenditure was down 79.2 per cent, or €1.6 billion against the same period in 2019, with only €442 million spent in the period in 2020.

Data shows a drastic decrease in tourism numbers of more than 92 per cent, as only limited travel takes place. Air travel was down by 92.8 per cent, whereas sea travel was down 55.7 per cent.

The number of inbound tourists to Malta in November 2020 was 14,936 whereas in the same month in 2019, Malta received 191,110 tourists.

Statistics suggest that tourist numbers for those aged over 65 declined much more sharply than those aged under 24. 97 per cent fewer tourists aged 65 and over arrived in Malta, whereas 86.8 per cent less tourists aged 24 and under arrived.

The number of visits from repeat visitors decreased less than the number of visits by first-time visitors. Visits by those that usually come twice a year fell by 81.2 per cent, whereas first-time visitor figures fell by 93.9 per cent.

A possible silver lining is that visitors stayed longer in 2020. The average length of stay in November 2020 was 14.3 nights, more than double the equivalent figure in 2019 and 2018 (6.3 nights).

Despite this, the number of nights in accommodation rented by tourists declined at almost the same rate as overall visitor numbers, falling 88 per cent. This is likely because many repeat tourists stay with friends or other connections instead of renting.

It seems the road to recovery for the tourist industry is a long and winding one. In January, the Malta Chamber President suggested that Malta would see reduced tourism for an extended period, saying “it would be foolish to think that tourism will reach 2019 figures during this year.”

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