The number of visitors from Malta to other countries decreased by more than 30,000 between January and March, compared to the same period last year. Figures by the National Statistics Office reveal that outbound tourism declined by 21.3 percent from the 146,841 registered in the first quarter of 2019.
The drop in the total number coincides with Covid-19 measures that restricted flights to high-risk countries over March until the airport was completely closed to all destinations on the 21st of the month.
Travel to EU states fell by over 40 percent, reaching just over 75,000 tourists – less than 10,000 of whom visited non-euro area countries. On the other hand, outbound tourism outside the EU increased by 22,500, a growth of 125 percent from under 18,000 in the first three months of 2019.
The non-EU market includes the United Kingdom which, together with Italy, represents half the outgoing travel figures. In fact, Italy remained the most popular destination receiving slightly less than 34,000 tourists from Malta while the UK received around 23,000 visitors.
Travel to Italy, however, followed the general trend and dipped by 20 percent since last year. In the case of the UK, this was the first time that it classified as a non-EU destination and, without it, the category would have still registered a decrease of five percent.
Lower numbers also meant a decline in total estimated expenditure by outbound tourists, which this year stood at €81.3 million or 28 percent less than 2019. However, the average €704 spend per person abroad is also the lowest amount in the seven years under review. Total expenditure per night per capita was calculated at €121 – only in the first quarter of 2014 did outbound tourists spend less.
The largest share of travellers were people between 25 and 44, representing close to half of all tourists, while the smallest age group were people over 65 years, at less than seven percent of the total. Most outbound travel was either for holiday purposes (57%) or to visit relatives and friends (24%). Business, educational, health and other categories of travel accounted for under a fifth of total outbound tourism.