17 JULY 2002
Although more than 10 months have passed since the 11 September attacks, many are still wary of flying to the United States, according to a number of travel agents speaking to The Malta Financial and Business Times yesterday.
However, levels of outgoing tourists to Europe have not changed much and although some travel agents are registering a slight fall, this years levels are more or less at par with last years.
Apart from the fear of flying adopted by many since last autumns atrocities, Maltese travellers are also showing a preference for sea-travel over air-travel, as cruises are becoming more and more popular.
Although England still tops the list of destinations for Maltese travellers, Euro Disney has seen its favour increasing this year, over Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
Jonathan Vella, Sales Executive at Norman Hamilton tours told The Malta Financial and Business Times that the industrys workload hasn't changed much compared to last year.
He explains, "Yes there was a decrease to the US market but people are now taking more cruises. Our company has increased its operation in cruising holidays and at the moment we are doing very well especially with the ship Nistral. About 6,070 Maltese passengers are travelling with this ship which we are also using as sub-agents to Euro Tours, Britania Tours and Mondial Travel.
"Another ship which we're working with is the Saphire, which until now has already seen 1,000 passengers. However, the American destination is sill being ignored. Last year we had a cruise to the US in which more that 100 had participated but today only 40 travellers have made it to the US."
Meanwhile, Charles Busuttil of EC Travel confirmed the slight downfall in outgoing tourism compared to last year, affirming that the aftermath of 11 September is still being felt, especially in terms of flights to the United States.
He comments, "You have to offer new products, as we did with two charter flights to Tenerife which were both booked. This is definitely a global phenomenon.
Regarding the slump to the US market, Mr Busuttil believes that it had decreased by some 30 per cent, while other becoming popular among the destinations Maltese are South Africa and China. Italy is another place where, like England, outgoing tourism has remained stable.
Neville Buntige from EDT Travel also confirmed that the outgoing market has slowed, holding again 11 September accountable. He believes that there has been about a 20 per cent fall compared with last year and that while tour organisers might not feel the pinch, one has to determine what the Maltese are actually spending on holidays this year in order to have an accurate estimate.