EY survey: Tourism operators think it will take two to five years to return to 2019 levels

Updated on

The vast majority of participants in an EY Malta survey said they expect 2020 to be significantly loss-making and project virtually no meaningful levels of occupancy or revenues for the rest of the year.

Participants of the Covid-19 perception survey included key executives from some of the major 3 – 5-star hotels, hotel chains and boutique hotels.

Most of the respondents said they expect a material risk of the crisis prolonging well into 2021.

They generally expect a meaningful recovery to take between 2 – 5 years before returning to 2019 levels.

There was unanimous response that all reservations until the end of June 2020 were either cancelled or deferred. Similarly, bookings for the rest of the season are being cancelled or postponed gradually

There are significant concerns that the recovery will be slow and difficult, while uncertainty around the duration of the pandemic, availability of a vaccine, and changes in consumer behaviour will exacerbate the matter.

Government support measures were well received amongst the industry leaders, and it was agreed that there is a need to have longer term visibility and availability of support measures that extend beyond the easing of lockdown measures as tourism starts to return gradually.

All respondents shared a view that Malta needs to revisit and assess its tourism product. It was noted that Malta’s strategic approach to tourism needs to be reframed for a post COVID-19 world which will potentially see permanent changes to travel behaviours in a context of heightened competition for tourism.

The report also provides recommendations such as re-examining the tourism offering for the long-term, increasing the efforts in promotion and building market confidence, increased visibility on the duration of support measures, and initiatives to reduce the immediate cash burden.

Country Managing Partner, Ronald Attard said: “Hospitality and tourism have seen the most significant impact from COVID-19 with a complete shutdown in activity and bookings. As one of Malta’s main economic pillars and following several years of large increases in arrivals, the industry is now facing an unprecedented challenge, which requires constant monitoring to ensure proper understanding and sound decision-making. Our team has prepared an Industry Pulse Report specifically for the tourism sector because of its immense contribution to our economy and all our people. We trust that this publication will become a reference document for discussion among stakeholders such as corporate executives, financial institutions and the Government.”