Added 15 April 2023
On the 13th of February, the Malta Tourism Authority presented the end of year results for the year, 2022, that were released by the National Statistics Office for the year ending 31st December 2022.
Tourism activity grew steadily ever since after the first four months from the start of the year, 2022. Malta saw 80% of arrivals from pre-pandemic results. The average length of stay was 7.3 nights in 2022 with a total expenditure of €880 per capita, or €73 more than 2019.
The Maltese islands saw an increase in visitors from France, Austria, Italy and Poland. Notwithstanding, the UK market remained at the top of the inbound tourism activity with 427,005 visitors, followed by Italy with 398,198. Cruise passenger traffic amounted to almost 490,000 visitors in 2022 as a close of 64% of visitors were seen pre-pandemic. Ferry services between Malta and Gozo, and between Sicily and Malta also saw notable increase in journeys.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Maltese tourism industry found itself as the frontliner, facing the difficulties and hardships that the pandemic brought along with it. Despite this, the industry did not back down. The resilience that was shown throughout the difficult times is a major contribution to a steady tourism recovery that is being experienced today. The Malta Tourism Authority kept striving to create focused initiatives for a continual recovery post-pandemic. As a result, the industry came back stronger in the post-pandemic tourism scene.
Together with the combined effort of stakeholders and industry partners, during 2022, the Malta Tourism Authority encouraged the promotion of Malta and Gozo as the ideal destinations for weddings, specialist group events, festivals and musical concerts. These events proved to be exceptionally successful during 2022.
Whilst the growing numbers of tourism have been a positive turn for the industry, it has also been a priority for the Ministry for Tourism and the Malta Tourism Authority to consider possible environmental impact during the year of tourism recovery. This brought the commitment to promote responsible and sustainable travel. The year 2022 saw various restoration projects, namely St Agatha Tower, St Marija Battery, Dwejra Tower and the façades at Ta’ Liesse, Valletta, with St Thomas Tower being converted to a museum. Mellieha and Ghadira promenade are also currently being restored. In the meantime, an oil tanker shipwreck named Hephaestus was cleaned, restored and scuttled underwater, off the coast of Gozo as a popular scuba diving spot, whilst attracting sustainable marine life. These projects have all been, and are still, part of the strategic and conscious effort to modernise and enhance visitors’ experiences during their stay on the islands.
Another addition to tourism recovery is the growth of the film industry in Malta. The industry contributed €85 million to the local economy in 2022. In 2022, we watched the productions of Prizefighter, Hounds of War, and Jurassic World Dominion. Such productions have been a magnet for film tourism, all thanks to the efforts of The Malta Film Commission.
On a final note for the 2022 post-pandemic recovery strategy, the Malta Tourism Authority used various marketing strategies to reach out to a variety of audiences and niche markets as much as possible. Digital Out of Home advertising saw VisitMalta campaigns in various locations, such as London, Manchester, Dublin, Warsaw, Rome, Milan, Vienna and Paris. Brand partnerships were also part of these marketing projects, such as the VisitMalta and Manchester United partnership, and the VisitMalta and Eolo Kometa Cycling Team partnership, amongst others.
“Hospitality is alive once again”
Moving forward from the pandemic times, more training and education programs are envisioned to be customised according to the tourism industry’s requirements. Air connectivity will be strengthened further by looking for innovative and digital ways to invest in the industry, and by exploiting more opportunities in niche tourism.
The future will recognise sustainability as a main priority in tourism, which will mean having tourists visiting our islands on a year-round spread. Seasonality will continue to be reduced until it will cease to affect the islands’ tourism industry. The focus will be on rethinking and revitalising tourism. Although attracting high numbers of tourism will still be in the forefront for the tourism industry, the Ministry for Tourism and the Malta Tourism Authority will start putting more emphasis on attracting quality tourism in the near future of the industry.