Most hoteliers believe tourism will not reach pre-Covid levels before 2023

Miguela Xuereb

Nearly two-thirds of international hoteliers believe it will take until at least 2023 for trade levels to return to pre-Covid-19 levels, a survey by Deloitte shows.

The findings of the survey were discussed at a webinar organised by the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association entitled Reigniting Tourism, with Deloitte Malta’s hospitality sector leader Raphael Aloisio analysing the data.

Only 6% of hoteliers surveyed expected things to return to normal by next year, with an additional 29% believing the drop in tourism will be reversed by 2022. Among the rest, 17% believe that such a recovery will not take place until at least 2024.

Financial distress is expected to spike around the end of the year, with 46% believing this more likely to happen in the last quarter of 2020 and a further 32% citing the first quarter of 2021.

A small bit of positive news may be found through Google Trends, as internet searches for Malta in leading tourism markets have begun to pick up. Nevertheless, they remain significantly below the levels registered in the same period last year.

Given the situation, Aloisio suggested that, in order to shorten the prospective recovery period, government and other stakeholders could work together to launch products and offers which could sway prospective tourists in favour of choosing Malta for their holiday.

Tourism not ‘a cash cow for capitalists’

In his address, MHRA president Tony Zahra argued that the pandemic has led to an increased realisation of the economic importance of tourism

“The airport is now open, and the tourism sector and health authorities are together doing amazing work to ensure that we all remain safe, whilst giving hope to the tourism sector to survive,” he maintained.

Zahra also sought to emphasise that the sector went beyond hoteliers and restaurateurs, arguing that “it is fundamentally wrong that someone gives the impression that it is a cash cow for capitalists.”

Malta, the MHRA president argued, needed to keep portraying itself as a safe destination, ensure more seats are available and work to fill these seats.

“It’s definitely not going to be easy, but we have been through difficult times before and we have always worked together to move forward and succeed,” he said.