March saw an almost 50 per cent drop in sea passenger numbers to Gozo

Rebecca Anastasi - 15th April 2020

The figures for the year’s first quarter show that only 212,341 passengers made the trip last month, compared to 429,259 in February. 

The number of people who made the trip to Gozo almost halved in one month, statistics released by the National Statistics Office (NSO) have revealed.

In March, a total of 212,341 people crossed over to Gozo by sea ferry, compared to 429,529 the previous month. The significant drop was also seen in the number of vehicles: 84,901, compared to 139,905 in February. These figures mark a 56 per cent decrease in the number of passengers and a 41.9 per cent drop in vehicles, when compared to 2019.

But, the figures also show that the number of individual trips has remained stable, with the NSO registering 2,454, 2,294 and 2,376 for January, February and March respectively – an increase when compared to last year’s figures which stood at 1,739, 1,676 and 2,034 for those same months.

These statistics shed new light on the impact of COVID-19 on Gozo, which has been hard hit economically by the crisis. 

Earlier this month, the CEO of the Gozo Business Chamber, Daniel Borg, had said that businesses in Gozo are likely to suffer more due to “the issue of double insularity”. Elaborating, he stated that they “are not competing at a level playing field with their Maltese counterparts because of the added costs they face in their day-to-day operations especially when it comes to the transport between the two islands,” 

Moreover, “businesses in Gozo have a smaller market”, are micro-enterprises and “have had to work harder to remain competitive throughout the years, with the result that they have benefitted from a reduced profit margin”. This leaves them, he said, “more exposed to the risks as they are not in a position to cushion the present blow.”

Photo Credit:  Gozo Channel Operations Limited/Facebook

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