Businesses in Gozo reported a bumper holiday season as more people than usual crossed over for Christmas and the New Year.

Valletta is reported to have done very well in terms of business over the festive season.Valletta is reported to have done very well in terms of business over the festive season.

Joseph Muscat, head of the Gozo Tourism Association, said bars, restaurants, hotels and private accommodation had all experienced a busy period, bolstered by an influx of both domestic and foreign tourism.

“This was even evident in the long queues at the ÄŠirkewwa ferry terminal,” he said. “There seems to have been an increase on previous years, probably helped by the fact that Christmas and New Year’s Day fell on a Tuesday, encouraging people to visit for a long weekend, apart from the good weather,” Mr Muscat added.

Gozo Business Chamber president Joseph Grech said that after a relatively slow start, business had been boosted by a campaign organised by the Gozo Ministry and other stakeholders.

“The fact that Gozo was advertised as the place to be during Christmas and the start of the New Year helped in attracting a large number of people from Malta and abroad, bringing their custom to the island and increasing business over this period,” he said.

The higher numbers, he noted, highlighted the fact that Gozo Channel was operating at saturation point and that a fourth vessel and fast-ferry service were urgently needed.

Supply has grown tremendously and we’ve seen a shift in consumer behaviour

Philip Fenech, president of the tourism and hospitality section of the Malta Chamber of SMEs (GRTU), described the last holiday season as a “mixed bag” for businesses, despite a largely positive feedback overall.

“Supply has grown tremendously and we’ve seen a shift in consumer behaviour,” he said. “This year, there was a lot of displacement from one place to another: Valletta did very well because of the boost it’s been given but that has taken some of the business from other places, although the increase in tourist numbers made up some of the shortfall,” he remarked.

Mr Fenech said that with the economy doing well and people going out more regularly, the spike in the festive season was not as pronounced as it had been at times, with people organising more family gatherings over Christmas instead.

Moreover, he continued, while businesses had reported an increase in the number of parties being booked, that had, in turn, disrupted the normal pattern of distribution for other establishments. 

“What a lot of establishments have been telling us is that they have seen a lot of change in their clients’ loyalties: people are spoilt for choice. This isn’t a phenomenon that started this year but it’s certainly continued,” Mr Fenech said.

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