With an aim to revive its tourism industry and gain a competitive position as international tourism restarts, Malta plans to offer foreign tourists a handout of upto 200 euros each if they stay for at least three days in the country this summer.
Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo announced on Friday, confirming the scheme will apply to 35,000 “free, individual travellers” and will have an allocated budget of €3.5 million. It will only apply to foreign tourists and not domestic ones.
Hostels that intend on participating in this scheme will first have to declare their interest with the Malta Tourism Authority. The government will then pay foreign tourists €100 if they stay at a five-star hotel, €75 if they stay at a four-star hotel, and €50 if they stay at a three-star hotel. This amount must be evenly matched by the hotel which means travellers staying at a 5star hotel will receive €150, those who stay at a four-star hotel will be entitled to €150 and tourists staying at a three-star hotel will be entitled to €100.
Travellers will benefit from an extra 10% when bookings are made with hotels on the smaller Maltese island of Gozo, three kilometres (two miles) north of the mainland.
Eligible travellers will have to book their stay directly with the hotel and not through third-party websites like Booking.com, etc. The cost will cover accommodation, food and drink, and other ancillary services.
The country welcomed more than 2.7 million foreign visitors in 2019 but figures have drastically reduced by more than 80% since the coronavirus was detected in March 2020.
Malta currently has the highest virus vaccination rate in the European Union, having given at least one dose to 42% of adults. The nation has seen a steep drop in new COVID-19 cases, with the positivity rate – the percentage of tests that show a positive result – down to 2.6%. The government has been urging the EU to introduce vaccine passports to facilitate travel.
Bartolo said he was also in discussion to encourage travel between Malta and Britain, whose population accounts for a third of tourists in the former British colony.
Apart from this scheme, Bartolo also announced a separate €3 million scheme for travel operators who will market Malta as a travel destination. The money will only be given to the operator if they successfully bring tourists over. The MTA has already signed around 75 agreements with operators, including Tui, VisitEurope, Sunspot, Chevron, and On The Beach.
These two schemes are part of a €20 million package the government is rolling out to help revive the battered tourism industry ahead of the summer months. The plan is for Malta to start welcoming tourists back to its shores from 1st June.