Last Updated on Thursday, 18 August, 2022 at 1:55 pm by Andre Camilleri
Initial reports positive, not yet at pre-Covid figures
The Santa Marija festa weekend proved a popular destination for many this week; however, tourism figures are not yet at pre-Covid figures, explained Joe Muscat, Chief Executive Officer of the Gozo Tourism Authority, to The Malta Business Weekly.
“From initial reports that Gozo Tourism Association has received from the local tour operators, I can say the Santa Marija weekend on the island was a very good one. Naturally, it is expected during this time of the year, being the peak of the season; however, this year, it was bolstered by the Santa Marija Feast falling on a Monday. In fact, accommodation providers reported occupancy levels in the region of 93% to 95% during the current and past days.”
With many businesses on summer shutdown, popular booking sites such as Booking.com state that 97% of accommodation within Gozo is unavailable for the upcoming weekend.
Muscat continued, “The accommodation establishments noticed increases in arrivals on 2021 from the foreign tourists, whilst some establishments reported less domestic tourists than last year. This was expected since 2021 was a record year for the domestic market in Gozo, whereby an increase of 61.9% was registered on 2019. This was due to several travel restrictions in place to mitigate the spread of Covid-19, a factor which deterred a lot of Maltese from taking their holidays abroad.”
Muscat said, that 2022 is still a year of recovery from Covid-19. As for whether foreign tourism has compensated for the fewer Maltese people in Gozo and if the shift will mitigate the impact on tourism, he said that this question has yet to be answered.
“It is a reverse situation compared to last year.” He said that while last year more Maltese and fewer foreigners visited, this year fewer Maltese than in 2021 but more foreigners visited. During the current year, after such travel restrictions are no longer in place, it is evident that the Maltese are opting for their summer breaks in overseas destinations. Overall, we expect that 2022 will end up better than 2021, although the figures registered in 2019 are not forecasted to be attained.”
Asked about feedback from restaurants in Gozo, Muscat said that inflation has affected spending by tourists, as restaurants have had to increase prices for food.
“People are more wary, and more intelligent in spending money at restaurants due to inflation. The feedback from restaurants has more or less been the same as previous years, however inflation will affect the tourists in these restaurants, and how much they spend,” Muscat said.
Gozo Channel Chairman Joe Cordina reported to the media that around 46,000 people travelled to Gozo over Santa Marija weekend, typically one of the busiest weekends of the year for the sister island. Approximately 11,000 more people made the trip to Gozo this year. While Cordina was satisfied with the numbers, he also noted that they still hadn’t reached record levels in 2019 when around 50,000 people visited Gozo, TVM reported.