2023 marks record 3 million inbound tourists, exceeding 2019 figures

Last Updated on Monday, 12 February, 2024 at 3:39 pm by Andre Camilleri

The year 2023 has marked a record number of inbound tourists, exceeding the 3 million mark (3,002,823), also exceeding 2019 figures by 8.3%, Malta’s Tourism results for 2023 showed.

In a press conference on Monday, Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo said that 2023 proved to be the best year of all time for Malta’s tourism industry, which includes the number of inbound tourists, as well as the number of guest nights spent in Malta, and in terms of tourist expenditure.

The results on the country’s best tourism year were presented by Deputy CEO and Chief Officer for Strategic Development of the Malta Tourism Authority (MTA) Leslie Vella.

Vella said that 2023 saw over 3 million tourists reaching the islands, an 8.3% increase when compared to 2019’s 2.77 million tourists. This includes the number of tourists who spent a night in Malta on board cruise liners, over and above the 2,975,670 listed in the total number of arrivals by the NSO earlier today.

Malta’s tourism growth also surpasses the European recovery from the pandemic, which stood at 94% of its 2019 levels. The only country which exceeded Malta’s growth in 2023 was Albania, a newcomer to the industry, Vella said.

He explained the top tourism markets, where for the first time, Italy has surpassed the United Kingdom, amounting to 18.4% of tourists, while British tourists amounted to 18.1%.

Vella said that this was due to the fact that the UK’s market has yet to recover, but hopes that with the new routes added, numbers will recover.

France (9.6%), Germany (7.3%), Poland (5.6%) and Spain (3.8%) follow Italy and the UK as top markets for Malta.

Vella also spoke of seasonal months, that while the second and third quarter of the year remain the most popular seasons for tourism, the summer months are no longer the sole period for the majority Malta’s tourism, seeing potential growth in the first and fourth quarters.

With regards to age groups of tourists, the industry saw a shift towards a slightly younger cohort of tourists. The largest share of tourists are aged between 25 and 44 years old, making up 39% of all 2023 tourists. Tourists aged between 45 and 64 years old comprised 30% of all tourists.

In terms of tourist expenditure, in 2023, tourists in Malta spent a total of €2.7 billion, or €898 spent per capita.

2023 also marked a record number of nights, exceeding 20 million overnight stays, as compared to the 19.3 million recorded in 2019, Vella said, describing this as a milestone.

On types of accommodation, collective accommodation has marginally increased to 63%, where nearly two thirds of inbound tourists stayed in collective accommodation. 27% stayed in other rented accommodation.

For 2024 projections, Vella said that the industry is expected to fully recover with initial estimated pointing to a 2% growth above 2019 levels, with this year expected to feature further growth over record results from 2023.

Minister Bartolo said that Malta has managed to recover and surpassed pre-pandemic levels in less than three years, a year less than planned.

Bartolo said that Malta was the best performing Mediterranean destination in 2023, and one of the first destinations in Europe to fully recover after the pandemic.

Government’s aim is to continue to attract higher quality tourists, improve public cleanliness, solidifying primary markets, integrating sustainability and preserving heritage, Bartolo said, adding that the industry must be innovative and market itself effectively to stay ahead of the game.

He said that government will also strengthen its resources by introducing a skills card for restaurant and hotel owners and provide comprehensive training of all employees with assessment.

Bartolo said that public cleanliness has been a subject which “was taken for granted”, and government is fully doing its part by investing in technology in a national project, including the upkeep of various tourism zones.

He also said that Malta is in talks with several long-haul markets, such as the United States, Japan, Australia and Gulf countries, where Bartolo believes the country’s future lies in long-haul tourists, and air connectivity being Malta’s lifeline to achieve this.

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