Aircraft loading passengers against a sunrise

The new law requiring bars, restaurants and other establishments to ask customers for a valid vaccine certificate before allowing entry could actually be a positive when it comes to tourists choosing Malta as a destination, according to The Malta Chamber.

The new measures, which came into effect on Monday, have been criticised by hospitality sector lobby groups, calling them a hammer blow to the industry.

“As such, nothing has changed for tourists, as they have already had to have a valid vaccine certificate to enter the country, and have done for some time now,” said Alan Arrigo, Chairperson of the Chamber’s Tourism Operators Business Section.

Asked if potential visitors to Malta might view the new law as an inconvenience, Mr Arrigo said the Chamber’s data showed otherwise.

“As long as rules don’t change from week to week, tourists seem to appreciate the added safety that vaccine passports represent. So if anything, it’s a unique selling point,” he said, pointing out that in 2021, Malta had a relatively good summer despite restrictions.

Mr Arrigo said that bookings were up compared to January last year.

“Having said that, what we have observed is that, whereas in previous years many people booked their summer holidays in January, now they’re booking them only for a few weeks in advance,” he said, speculating that this phenomenon was caused by the ongoing volatility of the pandemic.

“Now when you book a holiday you have to look at three things: the rules in your own country, the rules of the country you’re visiting, and whether the airline will cancel your flight,” he said.

Mr Arrigo said the sector was hoping to return to a semblance of normality in 2024.

“If airline seat capacity is at 70 per cent or more, that’s a good start,” he said.

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