Tourists in Malta are expected to exceed 2.5 million this year, making it another record year for the industry, according to the Malta Tourism Authority (MTA).
“Following last year’s record 2.3 million tourists, 2018 is proving to be another strong year in terms of growth, after a very good winter season,” a spokesperson from the MTA said. “The initial results for summer 2018 are also very positive and it is being conservatively estimated that tourism figures will exceed 2.5 million this year.”
The spokesperson said that there is a range of factors contributing to Malta’s success in this area. “These include expanded airline connectivity, spearheaded by Air Malta’s growth in fleet size and served routes this year, and the attractiveness of Valletta 2018 to Malta’s tourism source markets,” the spokesperson said. “Based on current estimates and forecasts, next year is also expected to be a positive year.”
While Malta’s economy has diversified greatly over the years, travel and tourism still count as its main source of income, with total contribution to the GDP amounting to around 27 percent. However, backlash against this lucrative industry is starting to raise its head, especially in the places that, on paper, profit from it most. SET– the Southern European front against Touristification – was founded in April this year, and includes representatives from Malta and various Mediterranean cities, which have seen their popularity as tourist destinations skyrocketing, with the introduction of cheap flights offered by low-cost airlines. Such organisations claim not to be against tourism overall, but simply want to curb the problems brought on by mass tourism. It’s an issue that the MTA is aware of, and has been taking steps to improve.
“As tourism continues to grow worldwide, with World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) estimates forecasting close to two billion trips per annum within the next decade, the phenomenon of over-tourism is starting to be identified and highlighted by a number of overcrowded and popular destinations across the globe,” the MTA commented.
“Organisations such as UNWTO list factors such as better seasonal spread, and more pro-fessional management of tourism flows as potential antidotes to this. Malta has been at the forefront of spreading its tourism growth, mostly in the off-peak months, and attracting different streams of tourism which complement each other without overlapping, so as to avoid peak concentrations, whilst maximising on tourism’s returns. Nevertheless, this needs to be continually monitored and addressed, particularly in terms of infrastructural responses, and care taken to ensure that the host-guest relationship remains at the current high levels that it is.”
The MTA added that with the fast evolution of tourism worldwide, Malta needed to continually seek out new market segments to beable to sustain its role as a destination of first choice, amongst ever-increasing competition. “New markets can include geographical ones, such as North America, Latin America, and South East Asia. They can also consist of new market segments, focusing on experiential tourism, and ranging from cultural to gastronomic, musical, and activity-based tourism, in which the Maltese tourism industry is continually investing, and creating new products and services.”
This article originally appeared in The Malta Business Observer