Malta’s tourism industry experienced a sharp decline in the number of tourist arrivals last month and in their expenditure, according to the latest National Statistics Office figures.
Air departures February by 11.5 per cent fell down in when compared to February 2004, and tourists’ total expenditure decreased by Lm2.2 million or 6.3 per cent.
Tourists arriving between January and February in fact spent Lm157.2 per capita. Expenditure on package tours for visits to the Maltese islands was estimated at Lm15.6 million – 1.1 per cent less compared to last year. Non-package tourists spent even less – Lm4.2 million on airfares and Lm1.9 million on accommodation, reducing total expenditure on non-package travel to Lm1.4 million or 19.2 per cent.
The results are worrying for the tourism industry as even the British market – considered to be the most important one – registered a drop of 10.2 per cent last month.
Departing tourists with their country of residence in France accounted for 6.5 per cent of the market, decreasing by 23.7 per cent over 2004. Other drops in tourist departing from Malta included those residing in Italy, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Libya and the US.
The Malta Tourism Authority expects around 1.2 million tourists to visit Malta this year, with an increase of German, Spanish and Sicilian tourists. But British tourists are favouring Turkey, Tunisia and eastern European countries as their destinations.
The latest Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association survey showed that the number of tourists from the United Kingdom decreased by about four per cent in 2004 over the previous year.
The MTA was budgeting GBP1 million to advertise Malta in the UK as it still considers it to be “Malta's most important market”.
On the other hand, an increase of 4.9 per cent was recorded in departing tourists with Germany as their country of residence. These accounted for 12.2 per cent of the market.
Increases in tourist departing by air were recorded from Denmark, Russia and from a group of 'other' markets.
In the period under review, holiday tourists accounted for 80.7 per cent of the market while 11.9 per cent were business tourists. When compared to same period last year, holiday tourists declined by 7.1 per cent and business tourists declined by 22.7 per cent.
The number of nights spent in the Maltese islands by tourists departing by air estimated for January-February 2005 reached a total of 1,014,102, a drop of 4.8 per cent over the same period in 2004. The number of nights spent in hotel accommodation establishments increased by 7.0 per cent and accounted for 73.8 per cent of the total nights spent.