Data on tourism flows in Malta for 2022, according to the NSO (National Statistics Office), showed interesting signs: 2.28 million tourists visited Malta in 2022, with a total of over 16.6 million overnight stays. In addition, total tourist expenditure was estimated at €2.0 billion, with the average expenditure per tourist slightly decreasing from €899 in 2021 to €880 in 2022.
Most tourists are between 25 and 44 years old and residents of the UK, Italy and France account for 43.9% of total arrivals. In December 2022, 117,668 tourists visited Malta on holiday, while 12,966 arrived for business purposes. The total number of arrivals for the month was estimated at 136,423, with a total of 967,108 overnight stays.
83.3% of overnight stays were in rented accommodation and the average length of stay was 7.1 nights. Total tourist expenditure in December 2022 exceeded EUR 101.5 million, an increase of 85% over the previous year, with an average nightly expenditure of EUR 105.0.
Stephen Xuereb, CEO of Valletta Cruise Port, recently interviewed by the Maltese media, said that Malta had been a significant player in the recovery of the Maltese tourism industry after the COVID-19 pandemic. Xuereb is also the CEO of Global Ports Holding PLC, which oversees the harmonisation of processes and operating systems across the group.
The Valletta Cruise Port has seen passenger volumes increase from 260,000 in 2001 to over 900,000 in 2019.
The Valletta Cruise Port has also committed to implementing the 10 principles of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism in its business strategies and operations, including supporting a EUR 49.9 million initiative for the development of onshore electrical infrastructure as part of the Grand Harbour Clean Air Project.
A strategy for responsible and sustainable tourism is needed.
Malta’s natural attractions, beautiful beaches and rich history make it a popular tourist destination. The country’s efforts to promote responsible and sustainable tourism have contributed to its growing popularity. The pandemic has had an impact on the industry, but with innovative ideas and effective leadership, Malta is on track to continue its growth.
The island offers a wide range of activities, such as guided tours to historical and cultural sites, scuba diving, water sports, trekking and even gastronomic excursions. Due to its central geographic position in the Mediterranean, Malta is also an ideal starting point for exploring the other islands in the region, such as neighbouring Gozo or the Italian islands of Sicily and Pantelleria.
Although the pandemic has had a significant impact on the global tourism industry, Malta’s experience shows that recovery is possible. The responsible and sustainable approach adopted by the tourism industry is a key factor in ensuring the safety of visitors and the sustainability of the industry itself.
Global tourism market. It is essential to join forces among the Mediterranean tourism industry players
The recovery of Maltese tourism cannot be separated from the tourism and business dynamics of Mediterranean tourism. The need for Mediterranean countries to join forces to compete with other regions in a global market, as well as to promote a sustainable tourism model that generates new business opportunities and ensures future growth, is one of the objectives to be achieved.
These issues were discussed at the recent MEDAWEEK 2022 conference, held in Barcelona from 16 to 18 November 2022, during which the general coordinator of ASCAME (Association of Mediterranean Chambers of Commerce), Anwar Zibaoui, emphasised the ability of the tourism sector to adapt to change and continue to grow, despite the many current economic and geopolitical challenges.
In the opinion of Zibaoui, ‘the present and future challenges for the Mediterranean involve becoming a sustainable tourist destination and impose a shared responsibility based on the three pillars of sustainability: economic, environmental and social. The tourism of the future incorporates balanced and focused development objectives’.
Zibaoui himself said that ‘the Mediterranean tourism industry currently lacks a formal organisation capable of bringing together all its voices and representing and coordinating common interests, which necessitates the creation of a regional tourism agency, created through public-public cooperation; privately and with the participation of all the agents involved to facilitate the promotion of a more competitive tourism model’.
The objective of this agency should be to create and consolidate a single brand for the entire Mediterranean, in order to strengthen common promotion systems and tools, similar to what other regions, such as the Caribbean or Africa, already do.