During 2022 Malta’s tourism sector improved by leaps and bounds following two sluggish years during the COVID-19 pandemic, receiving a total of 2,286,597 tourists, more than the sum of tourists in 2020 and 2021 combined (658,567 and 968,136). However, it still fell short of the record-high number witnessed in 2019, which saw 2,753,239 tourists arrive to the country.
Nevertheless, despite a gap of nearly half-a-million relative to 2019, the recovery of inbound tourism in 2022 cannot be underestimated.
It merits a deeper dive into the data to identifying any emerging trends.
Stronghold in Europe
In 2022 Europe continued to be the main source of tourists for Malta. While there has been a marked drop in inbound tourism from countries such as the UK, Germany and Scandinavian countries, this is contrasted by growing interest from the Baltics, Balkans and some Central European countries such as Poland, Czechia, Slovakia and Austria.
This indicates that, in relative terms, Malta is becoming a more attractive destination for tourists from emerging European Union economies.
In contrast, this also means that Malta has become less attractive to wealthy Northern and Western European countries.
Whether this trend is expected to continue is yet to be seen, however, it could lead to a change in how much tourists spend in Malta on average, with tourists from Poland being among the lowest spenders.
Russia and Ukraine
In 2022, tourists from Ukraine amounted to 4,804 while from Russia there were 4,304. This represents a significant decline from both countries, with tourism figures from Russia impacted far more than from Ukraine.
While the number of tourists from Russia declined by 86.7 per cent from over 30,000, from Ukraine they declined by 74.8 per cent from just under 20,000.
Both countries have suffered significantly in economic terms with Russia being on the receiving end of heavy sanctions due to its invasion of Ukraine, making it increasingly challenging for tourists from Russia to arrive in the first place.
Withdrawal from the rest of the world
Overall, far fewer tourists arrived in Malta from countries outside of Europe, with the number of tourists from Australia witnessing a sharp drop from nearly 50,000 in 2019 to just under 20,000 in 2019.
This could in part be due to the COVID-19 pandemic having impacted how tourists travel, opting for closer and more direct flights.
Since COVID-19 restrictions were lifted there has been a boom in people wanting to travel due to pent-up demand.
However, it also led to several key international airports in the UK, the Netherlands and Germany becoming overwhelmed and incapable of keeping up with the number of luggages after having laid off a significant portion of their staff during the pandemic.
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