Malta Sees Strong Tourism and Cruise Growth from North America

MSC Meraviglia on its maiden call at Valletta Cruise Port Malta

Malta’s cruise tourism is experiencing solid growth from the North American market, with a total of 93,482 passengers, according to the Malta Tourism Authority. This represents an increase in 2017 over the previous year of 24 percent for the American market (total 72,612) and a 30 percent increase for the Canadian market (20,870). The North American market represents almost 1/6 of the total cruise passengers to Malta worldwide which in 2017 was 670,000 (an increase of 7 percent).

A new attraction to passengers is that Valletta, Malta’s capital and main cruise port, is celebrating being crowned as the European Capital of Culture 2018, according to the Tourism Authority.

Valletta is a UNESCO World Heritage Site built as a city-fortress by the Knights of St John following the Great Siege of 1565.

Beyond the economic benefits that each cruise ship visit generates, there is also the positive contribution of showcasing some of the highlights of the Maltese archipelago to day trippers who use their social media networks to promote their Maltese experience to friends and family. Surveys of cruise passengers have also shown that many cruise passengers enjoy this “taste” of Malta so that they want to return to Malta and Gozo for a longer holiday, the Tourism Authority stated.

Stephen Xuereb, CEO of Valletta Cruise Port and COO of Global Ports Holding commented: “Valletta Cruise Port together with local stakeholders pulls all ropes to ensure that Malta continues to excel as a cruise destination. Excellent passenger satisfaction ratings for Valletta’s port services and Destination Malta, also mirrored by comments received from the cruise line executives, give us renewed energy to continue working relentlessly to exceed expectations.”

Malta tourism in general has experienced increases from all markets. Record results for inbound tourism from January to December 2017 totaled almost 2.3 million, marking an increase of 15.7 percent over the previous year. Total nights spent in Malta increased by 10.3 percent In 2017 the tourism industry contributed 1.9 billion euro to Malta’s economy.

Carlo Micallef, Malta Tourism Authority’s (MTA) Chief Marketing Officer added in a prepared statement that, “2017 was not only a stellar year of tourism growth for Malta as a stand-alone destination, but represents the culmination of consecutive years of record growth for tourism to Malta, Gozo and Comino. Tourism, which has experienced static performances in the past, is now seeing the numbers climb to new heights. It has also seen Malta out-perform global, European and Mediterranean average growth rates year after year”.

“Formerly a destination which, at best, hoped to emulate the success of its competitors, Malta has now changed into one which outperforms average results and grows at rates higher than most of its competitors after developing a tourism industry that is active and vibrant all year round,” Micallef said.

According to Michelle Buttigieg, Malta Tourism Authority’s representative for North America, “the dramatic growth in cruise passengers from the U.S. and Canada is also reflected in the major increase in overall tourism from these markets. Tourism arrivals in 2017 from the U.S. totaled 33,758 representing an increase of 35.2 percent over 2016 and for Canada, a total of 14,083 arrivals in 2017, an increase of 1.5 percent over 2016.

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