Tourism industry should recover in a year or so, solution lies in demand – Finance Minister

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The solution for the complete recovery of the tourism industry lies in the demand for its products and services, Finance Minister Edwin Scicluna said while speculating that it will take a year or a year and a half for the industry to get back on its feet.

He was replying to a question posed by The Malta Independent after his announcement of the Home Deposit Scheme yesterday morning, in which he was asked how much the tourism industry is likely to lose over the next two or three years.

The question was asked as Malta International Airport CEO Alan Borg speculated during this week’s edition of Indepth that the industry will be facing a  a tough three-year period before going back to the way it was pre-COVID.

While Scicluna did not give a direct answer to the question, he said that his ministry is expecting that the industry will take around a year or a year and a half to recover financially – “this is the most likely scenario.”

“However, there are upside and downside risks to take into consideration, which are unknown to everyone like this pandemic has shown. The future is uncertain as we know little about the current situation with the vaccine and other endeavours on the subject,” he added.

He said that he always has to think of the worst possible scenario so that Malta does not reach its limits before the end of this year, which would be detrimental to the country. The solution for the tourism industry lies in the demand for its products and services, like exportation and external tourism, he said.

The tourism industry was one of the first industries to feel the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic as the virus discouraged any international travel with airports across the globe closing down in order to prevent any importation or exportation of the virus.

The Malta International Airport was closed last March to commercial flights, with a speculated date of reopening having originally been rumoured for 15 June. This week the government revealed that airports will be reopening on 1 July with 18 countries already planned to share flights with Malta. However, some of these countries have a travel ban extending beyond 1 July and MIA CEO Borg explained that the airport will be running a very limited flight schedule.

On 22 May, this newsroom published an article on the tourism situation containing comments by the President of the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association, Tony Zahra. He had said that the best possible scenario predicted for next year is that 1.3 million tourists will visit Malta.

2.8 million inbound tourist trips were registered last year.