Malta, ‘the island hoping to be 2020’s festival hotspot’

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As a tourist destination, Malta generally welcomes foreign coverage highlighting its “product”, with the Malta Tourism Authority regularly funding journalists providing positive press. But perhaps the jury’s still out on whether a feature article put up by the BBC on Wednesday morning will be welcome news.

The BBC highlights that the Covid-19 pandemic has ruined many plans this summer, and most of the clubs in destinations like Ibiza are closed.

Malta, however, appears to have spotted an opportunity, with four large music festivals planned over the next few months. These festivals appear to be primarily targeted at British tourists, with their social media targeting people from the UK with information on flight prices

But the Beeb noted that unsurprisingly, there were concerns about what might happen if large crowds flocked to the island. It featured various tweets from sceptical Britons, with one rhetorically questioning whether Covid was allergic to Malta and another wondering “how much corona Brits are going to take to those festivals in Malta.”

The UK government generally advises against all but essential international travel, but Malta is among the countries currently exempt from this advice.

The festivals are being run by 365 Entertainment, whose director Nicky Spiteri, perhaps predictably, emphasised that tourism played a very important role in Malta’s economy, and that the Maltese were happy to welcome British tourists. He also said that he was working closely with the government to bring in a number of safety measures.

But his assertion does seem to clash with concerns about the organisation of mass events, triggered by a cluster of cases which is sourced to a weekend-long pool party held in a St Julians hotel. The party appears to have played a key role in an uptick of Covid-19 cases that Malta has witnessed in the past week.

An online petition calling for a stop to mass events, launched on Sunday morning, has already attracted over 12,000 signatories.