Buoyant third quarter for tourism – Central Bank

Miguela Xuereb

The Central Bank Quarterly Review (CMBQR) noted that, in the third quarter of 2019, the tourism sector continued to grow. This growth, however, was at a much slower pace than the growth registered in 2017 and 2018. The number of inbound tourists rose by 6.0% on a year earlier, to reach 927,358. The CBMQR said that the increase, particularly in the last quarter of 2019, was entirely driven by visitors coming to Malta for leisure purposes, as those travelling for business motives and for other reasons declined compared with the same quarter of 2018. Buoyant

More nights spent in Malta

The CBMQR said that the number of nights that tourists spent in Malta totalled 7.4 million, a 3.4% rise in the third quarter of 2018. This was propelled by an increase in nights stayed in both rented and non-rented accommodation. In absolute terms, the largest increase was recorded in nights spent in “other rented” accommodation which accounted for over half of the overall increase in nights stayed in Malta.

The total occupancy rate in col­lective accommodation estab­lishments fell to 83.0%, from 84.0% in the same quarter of 2018. The three-star category was the largest contributor to this decline. The two-star and the “other” collective accommoda­tion categories also reported marginally lower occupancy rates. On the other hand, occupancy rates in 5-star and 4-star establishments were higher compared with a year earlier. In the quarter under review, tourist expenditure in Malta was up by an annual rate of 3.4%, to reach €871.5 million. As in previous quarters, the strongest gain was registered in the non-pack­age category, which grew by 18.0%, while the “other” category was up by a more modest 1.5%.6 In contrast, spending on package holidays declined by 11.5%.

Tourist expenditure decreased

Compared with the same quar­ter of the preceding year, expen­diture per capita decreased to €940, from €964, as tour­ist expenditure increased at a slower pace compared with arrivals. Meanwhile, the aver­age length of stay declined to 7.9 nights, from 8.2 nights pre­viously.

According to Malta International Airport (MIA) data, in the third quarter of 2019, average seat capacity increased by 6.9% compared with a year earlier.

In the third quarter of 2019, the number of cruise liners visiting Malta totalled 122, 27 more than a year earlier. Foreign passen­gers were up to 249,735, from 183,480 in the same period of 2018; equivalent to a 36.1% increase. This reflected primar­ily increases from visitors com­ing from Germany and Ameri­can markets.