Malta was the biggest loser in terms of overall tourism because of the pandemic and related restrictions imposed on travelling, Eurostat figures show. 

Data by the European Union’s statistical office shows that Malta’s tourism industry suffered the hardest blow during the pandemic when compared to the previous year with an 80% decrease. 

On the other hand, Malta was one of two EU countries that saw domestic tourism increasing during the year under review, probably the direct result of the government-issued voucher scheme. 

Overall, European tourism during the COVID-19 pandemic crashed by a staggering 61%. The figures confirm how tourism was among the sectors most impacted by the pandemic due to travel restrictions as well as other precautionary measures taken by individual countries in response to the outbreak.

Eurostat said this drop was reflected in the number of nights spent in EU tourist accommodation establishments between April 2020 and March 2021. This translates into a drop of 1.7 billion nights from the 2.8 billion nights spent between April 2019 to March 2020, before the start of the pandemic.

Data for Ireland, France, and Cyprus was not available.  

Apart from Malta, other high decreases were observed in Spain, where tourism dropped by 78% and Greece where tourism dropped by 74%. In Portugal, tourism shrank by 70% while Hungary's was down by 66%. 

Internal tourism also decreased across the EU, except in Malta and Slovenia, the only two EU countries where internal tourism increased by 20 and 25% respectively. 

Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo said in April that last year the economy lost €2.2 billion in annual spending from tourism due to COVID-19.

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