More than 70,000 Maltese crossed over to Gozo during the week of Santa Marija earlier this month.

For the first time, the Gozo tourism sector is confident that more than one million tourists will visit the sister island this year.

Gozo Minister Anton Refalo welcomed the figures, saying all tourist establishments recorded positive results.

The number of passengers who visited Gozo for the popular feast represented a 2.5 per cent increase over last year and 6.2 per cent over 2012.

The number of vehicles grew slightly to just over 20,000. The ferry company made an average of 60 trips a day, practically a shuttle service.

Each ferry carried an average of 292 passengers and 74 cars every crossing, compared to 254 passengers and 64 cars in 2011.

Dr Refalo pointed out that the rising figures in the tourism sector were not limited to the Santa Marija weekend. National Statistics Offie data show a seven per cent increase in hotel bednights between January and May; almost 4,000 more than in 2013 and 18,500 over 2010.

In January, there was an “impressive” increase of 49 per cent in bednights in the case of foreigners and 10 per cent in Maltese staying at hotels and guest houses.

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