In 2022, Maltese residents took 601,701 trips abroad, spending a total of 4.2 million nights. Resident tourists spent roughly €517.5 million during those trips, almost 25 per cent more than they spent in 2020 and 2021 combined, according to NSO data.

The activity for 2022 was still well below that of 2019, however, it demonstrated a strong recovery in outbound tourism following the removal of COVID-19 restrictions.

Italy was far by the most popular destination, with 227,106 tourists making their way there in 2022, beating figures from 2019 (214,152). 

The second and third most popular destinations were the UK and Spain, with 64,703, and 35,545 tourists respectively. However, in both those destinations, the number of tourists was an overall drop compared to 2019, with the most dramatic difference being in the UK, where outbound tourism dropped from 126,376 in 2019.

There could be several factors at play, due to it being more expensive, with inflation having significantly impacted the country’s economy, making travel to the country less attractive.

While the number of trips to the UK dropped by half, the number of nights spent only dropped by around 25 per cent, from 766,224 in 2019 to 500,803 in 2022. Therefore while fewer people are visiting the UK from Malta, they are spending more time there.

The countries in which Maltese residents spent most on holidays echo the rankings of the top two destinations, with residents flying to Italy having spent €142.475 million, followed by the UK where residents sent €57.914 million.

In third place, Spain is surpassed by France, with €30.612 million spent by tourists. Even though fewer residents flew to France when compared to Spain, and spent fewer nights too, they spent more money. This may be due to a difference in the cost of living between the two destinations.

The data also categorises the purpose of visits into four categories: Holiday, visiting relatives and friends, business, and other (which includes educational, religious or health reasons).

The category that covers educational, religious and health reasons, was the only one where figures for 2022 surpassed those of 2019. A total of 34,246 trips were taken for those purposes in 2022 compared to 32,457 in 2019.

The number of individuals going abroad on holiday in 2022 was still significantly below those in 2019. While it was the largest category, with 360,087 trips in 2022, it is still shy of the 425,520 trips taken in 2019.

A staggering difference was also witnessed in the number of business trips, with more than 30 per cent fewer business trips taken in 2022 (57,347) compared to 2019 (90,219). This may indicate the effects of the widespread adoption of teleworking tools and online meetings, which reduced the need for in person meetings.

It also appears that the number of individuals visiting friends and family staged a strong recovery, with 150,020 trips in 2022, a difference of just over 8,000 compared to 2019.

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