Tourism spending down 2.3% despite 2023 record numbers

Major players in the tourism industry are increasingly worried about its prospects, particularly due to the government’s misguided propaganda on new 2023 tourism ‘records’ and a total lack of strategy and direction.

Official NSO figures show that while the number of tourists visiting Malta in 2023 hit a record high last year, slightly over 3 million, the average stay of visitors to Malta decreased significantly over 2019 (the last pre-pandemic record year).

Tourism spending is also down compared to 2019 when taking into consideration official inflation levels.

While in 2019, every tourist visiting the island spent an average of €800, the average spending per tourist in 2023 went down to €782 when factoring in inflation.

A large chunk of this goes to airfares and does not end up in the Maltese economy. Most of the flights also come at a cost due to subsidies given to airlines.

The average stay per tourist in 2019 was 6.9 nights, which decreased to 5.9 nights last year.

Constituted bodies and industry stakeholders have been calling for a long-term plan due to the oversupply of hotels and rented accommodation. Yet new permits for hotels continued to be issued.

Tourism experts who spoke to The Shift described the current government’s lack of direction as upsetting.

“While the prime minister and his tourism minister are expected to try to create some political hype over record 2023 numbers, the story does not end there. It is evident that the country has no direction in this sector,” a seasoned industry stakeholder said.

“We have been saying for years that we need quality over quantity. Yet, our politicians constantly boast of quantity and try to hide the real picture,” he said.

Malta cannot afford to have more than 3 million tourists annually who continue to spend less. Industry experts told The Shift that tourists should be encouraged to spend more on quality experiences.

“The strain on the infrastructure with overpopulation and so many tourists is already evident and significant, especially during the summer months. This is making us less attractive. We are also becoming much more expensive compared to our competitors, and this is also a big issue we are not addressing,” a hotelier told The Shift.

Two years ago, the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association and the Malta Chamber called for a rethinking of the tourism strategy, including a moratorium on the issue of new hotel licences. Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo ignored the calls.

Instead, the Malta Tourism Authority issued 21 new hotel licences in 2022 and 2023, increasing bed capacity by 2,256.

By July 2023, when the government published the latest information, some 20 more licences were being considered.


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1 month ago

Would be a reasonable request to define “Quality” in Malta. From where I’m sat it’s difficult to “see” quality. Given the state of the Island, filthy, congested, expensive, continuous construction, poor infrastructure, drug infested, totally corrupt and Mafia controlled government. Just ask, why would any “quality” tourist want to come here?
Answers on a postage stamp will suffice.

1 month ago

You should have a look at iGaming licenses and company formations, they’ve been in a decline since Q2 or Q3 2023, despite employee count increasing, implying consolidation or increased costs, or both?

Looks like every pillar of economic growth is slowing down, a function of an embedded short-term perspective in our culture.

Mark Debono
Mark Debono
30 days ago

Shit tourists = shit spending tourists because our governments and hoteliers want quantity not quality

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