Malta aims to revive tourism by paying tourists visiting the island
LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – Tourists visiting Malta during the summer period directly through local hotels will be eligible to receive a financial incentive.
100 will be given to tourists booking accommodation at a five-star hotel directly through the hotel’s booking system. Those opting for a four-star hotel will receive 75, and a 50 payment will be given to those booking a three-star hotel accommodation. The payment will then be doubled, as it will be matched by the hotel. This means that tourists are eligible to receive up to 200 each. To be eligible for the scheme, tourists must book a minimum of three days.
On the other hand, to encourage tourists to opt for Gozo, the financial aid for Gozitan hotels will be 10% higher. However, according to the Gozo Tourism Association, 75% of accommodation units licensed to host visitors in Gozo do not qualify for the travel incentive announced by the Maltese government.
Maltàs Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo explained that this incentive was made available after the Malta Tourism Authority was allocated 3.5 million for the scheme, which is estimated to impact around 35,000 tourists.
Hotels that wish to participate in the scheme will first have to declare their interest with the Malta Tourism Authority. The money will be handed out to tourists directly by the hotel.
The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association welcomed the announcement made by Minister Bartolo. President Tony Zahra said “the tourism sector is gearing up to ensure that it overcomes the most difficult 12-month period since the early 60’s. Our objective is to re-establish the Maltese islands as a safe and quality destination in the shortest possible time,” concluded Zahra.
Meanwhile, Minister Clayton Bartolo announced that as of June 1, 18 airlines plan to resume flights to Malta this summer, with network capacity at around 70% of pre-pandemic levels. Four airlines will add Maltese routes for the first time. Tourism authorities are also in “advanced talks” with a further four airlines interested in starting routes to Malta. The Maltese government plans to allow vaccinated tourists to visit free of restrictions, while unvaccinated tourists will need proof of a negative PCR COVID-19 test taken a few hours before arrival.
Cruise liners will also continue their service this summer, with no less than 34 port calls scheduled until the end of June.
Local tourism operators said that there is a great interest as regards travelling to Malta. The Maltese authorities are planning to start welcoming tourist as from the beginning of June. Tourism Minister Clayton Barolo said that the first tourists will be from Europe, particularly from the UK, Maltàs largest tourism market. Hotel owners reported other bookings from Italy, Germany, France and Cyprus. The Maltese government is also in discussions with the European Commission to allow ‘green’ passports for those who are vaccinated, to travel within Malta without any restrictions. The plan, as outlined by Minister Bartolo, is that vaccinated tourists will be able to visit Malta free of restrictions by presenting a digital “green passport” on arrival, while non-vaccinated tourists will need to submit a negative PCR COVID-19 test, taken a few hours before their arrival.
Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela warned that Malta will be in big trouble if the country misses out on another touristic season this summer. “If we lose a summer of tourism the country will have a problem. If on the other hand we are careful and cautious as we have been so far, and open up gradually, wèll ensure a good summer for tourism and a great future for the country.”
Abela added that a plan is being drawn up to assist those most affected by the pandemic as he reassured that wage supplements and other benefits will remain in place until the economy recovers.
The Federation of English Language Teaching Organisations Malta said that English language schools need financial support if the industry is to survive, pointing out the pandemic hit hard, causing “terrible financial losses”.
Recently, the Hotel and Restaurant Association declared its disappointment that no specific day has been announced yet when hotels and restaurants will be able to reopen. The association has appealed to the Government to give a specific date before April 26, when hotels and restaurants will be able to start operating.
Malta is highly dependent on the tourism industry, with approximately 17% of GDP reliant on this sector, directly and indirectly. It has been estimated that Malta lost 251 million in tourism revenue in July 2020 only, with visitor spending dropping by 88% in this period and an 84% drop in actual visitor numbers.