The Malta airport, hoteliers and restaurateurs have welcomed Robert Abela's promise to lift all COVID restrictions.

Speaking hours after being sworn in as Malta's eighth prime minister, Abela promised to leave it up to people to choose how to safeguard their own well being. 

However, on Tuesday Malta registered 603 new COVID cases, and the country is back at the top of the EU's virus concern list.

Reacting to Abela's comments while unveiling its summer schedule, the Malta International Airport said in a statement its confidence in the upcoming season was strengthened by the Prime Minister's pledge that the government will be removing the remaining COVID-19 restrictions.

"Only once people are able to travel freely to Malta again, can we start competing on a more level playing field with other Mediterranean destinations,” the airport's CEO, Alan Borg, said.   

Many partner airlines had already given Malta encouraging votes of confidence through the start of new services or the resumption of operations that had been interrupted by the outbreak of the pandemic, and the removal of travel restrictions would give consumer confidence a much-needed boost, the airport noted.

The MIA has just unveiled a schedule featuring 99 routes in 34 countries.

Earlier this month Borg warned that Malta’s “haphazard travel restrictions” played a major role in slowing the recovery of the tourism industry.

'In line with what competitor countries have already done'

The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association also welcomed Abela's pledge.

"This is very much in line with what some of our competitor countries have already done and what we have already recommended Malta should do," MHRA President Tony Zahra said in a statement.

"Over the past two years the hospitality industry did what it was asked to do by the Health Authorities and thanks to collective efforts, Malta has managed to weather the COVID storm.” 

Malta, he warned, needed to be on a level playing field with other tourism destinations and restrictions to access must be removed immediately.

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