Last Updated on Tuesday, 9 May, 2023 at 11:33 am by The Malta Business Weekly
The Ministry for Tourism and the Malta Tourism Authority on Monday lauded the results in the tourism sector in the first quarter of the year, with Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo saying that the discussion is now shifting to the quality of the tourist rather than the quantity.
The results were released by the National Statistics Office with the figures representing the first three months of the year 2023. The conference outlined the accomplishments and the activity that has been done to obtain the success in this year’s first quarter.
Malta and Gozo had a total inbound visitor count of more than 440,000 visitors from January to March 2023. Further to this, the total expenditure in Malta and Gozo rose to €312.4 million over these months.
This rise in visitor numbers has exceeded records of comparison from the first quarter of 2019 of other European countries such as Poland, France and Italy.
With regards to cruise tourism, 21 cruise liners called at Malta during the first quarter of 2023. Over 70,000 passengers were recorded to call at the Grand Harbour according to the National Statistics Office, with 70% of traffic hailing from European countries.
The MTA said that the marketing initiatives to increase tourism during the first quarter of 2023 aimed for sustainable, responsible and eco-conscious tourism.
“The first three months of the calendar year are considered off-peak months. Tourism activity from January to March encourage more active holidays and zero food waste. Tourists that choose to travel during these months tend to choose more eco-conscious accommodation,” the MTA said in its statement.
The authority said that part of the MTA’s digital marketing developments during the first quarter was the arrival of the wildly popular vlogger Nas Daily in Malta.
Nas Daily produced five videos about the Maltese Islands that were posted on Youtube, Tik Tok and Instagram platforms. These generated a combined viewer reach of over 38 million views.
Other digital marketing efforts included a joint agreement with the well-known Ryanair brand. This agreement focused on social media campaigns for segmented areas of tourism, which generated over 18 million views.
The MTA also lauded the reach of the VisitMalta brand. The Malta Tourism Authority’s current partnerships are two of the world-famous sporting brands: EOLO-Kometa Cycling Team and Manchester United. After having established these partnerships, the Malta Tourism Authority is now growing alongside these brands to attract the sports tourism niche to the Maltese Islands.
Since the beginning of the year, the EOLO-Kometa cycling team has participated in commemorating the AirMalta inaugural flight from Nice to Malta, and has also produced a cycling campaign for this year, filming an advert with two of the team’s cyclists enjoying the local history, culture and gastronomy.
These two activities produced marketing content that was shared among their fans in the cycling world that have surely highlighted Malta as a must-visit destination. Further to these activities, the EOLO-Kometa Cycling team keeps on representing the VisitMalta brand by carrying it on their cycling gear in around the world competitions during the calendar year.
The VisitMalta and Manchester United is yet another partnership that keeps on flourishing in 2023.
During the year, VisitMalta was featured on stadium-side banners and other forms of advertising around Old Trafford and Manchester City Centre through the “Malta Day” campaign that was held on 05th April 2023.
The campaign reached 1 million pedestrians and 10,000 supporters. Furthermore, a Manchester United Women’s Team trip to Malta was organised during the first week of 2023. The team members shared several Maltese sites and destinations on their social media that generated interest.
In addition, the Manchester United Academy also included a memorable visit to Malta which created further social media content from the participants.
Apart from the above partnerships, the MTA said that it is also investing in other sports-related tourism. The authority is supporting the Malta Football Association which has hosted Italy’s Men’s team, and Luxembourg and Austria’s Women’s teams; the Women International Friendlies; the Tipsport Malta Cup 2023; the Pro Recco Women Masters team; the La Valette Marathon 2023; and the Snooker European Championships.
The Malta Tourism Authority said that it is investing to grow tourism further during the upcoming months. In the coming weeks, the VisitMalta brand will be featured around Giro d’Italia with on-the-field branding, online branding and media platform marketing.
Additionally, the MTA will be supporting future events, such as Isle of MTV, Nickelodeon, the BBC Orchestra, Robbie Williams concert, EuroPride Valletta, among others to have Malta’s name featured in their marketing campaigns and as a result increase tourist bookings.
The VisitMalta Incentives and Meetings (VMIM) will continue to grow the MICE sector in Malta and Gozo by keeping Malta’s name featured in several exhibitions and fairs, like IMEX, ILTM and IBTM. VMIM will also support this year’s major conferences, that are SIGMA, MedTech and Green Vision to keep attracting large numbers of visitors during the shoulder months of the tourist season.
The Product department within the MTA is also working to develop certain touristic locations such as Għadira Promenade, Mellieħa square, Birgu square, and Buġibba square, amongst other further projects. There will also be new walking and cycling routes established in the months to come. As summer is approaching, the MTA will be once again managing a number of beaches from June to September.
The MTA will continue investing in more niche markets to grow tourism on the islands. A few of which would be faith tourism, gastronomy tourism, film tourism, sustainable travel and solo travel.
Last but not least, a fresh new look is being prepared for Summer. This is essential to keep revitalising the brand to create renewed interest and reach further audiences for the months and years to come.
The Minister for Tourism, Hon. Clayton Bartolo remarked that we are now moving to discussing the quality of the numbers obtained in the first quarter of this year, rather than by only achieving high quantities.
The Minister added that “with the right mindset and with the right strategy, we can beat seasonality for good”. The tourism industry must diversify and move away from the sun-and-sea tourism to ensure a steady flow of tourism all year round. Together, we, the tourism industry must work harder to make sure that these results are “not a one-off”.
The Minister commented that sustainability is our “day-to-day modus-operanda” and that we must keep these numbers high throughout all months of the calendar year.
The Chairman of the MTA, Dr. Gavin Gulia added that “This special quarter of record growth has reached new levels in more than one way: records in the number of arriving tourists, records in the number of nights stayed, records in tourism expenditure, and higher utilisation of existing capacity, and another record in off-peak tourism growth which all serve to make our achievement something worth commemorating.” The first quarter was focused on reducing seasonality, and this proved to be successful. The success is the result of the cooperation amongst the stakeholders, the Ministry for Tourism and the Malta Tourism Authority to achieve common tourism quality goals.
In addition, the Chief Executive Officer of the MTA, Mr. Carlo Micallef commented that “the success we are experiencing today is the fruit of the efforts of the Ministry for Tourism and the Malta Tourism Authority, together with the close collaboration of the stakeholders. The objective is to try and reach 2019 levels with higher quality tourism and more profitability for the industry; converting leads and sales; and creating and ameliorating partnerships in a bid to reach further audiences whilst promoting the VisitMalta brand to a wider range of destinations and segments.”