A "substantial" number of German and French tourists are expected in Malta this summer as the country strives to diversify its source markets, Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo said on Friday.

Addressing a news conference just one day after Malta failed to make it to the UK’s travel green list for the second time, Barolo said that as part of the country recovery plan and in line with its 10-year tourism plan, Malta was toiling to diversity its source markets. 

Video: Chris Sant Fournier

Malta's failure to make it to the UK green list is considered a blow to the country's tourism sector, which depends on UK visitors for the major chunk of its business. 

The government has also invested a €20 million aid package to kickstart the devastated tourism industry, with a 'special focus' on the UK. 

When asked for his reaction to the UK's announcement, Bartolo said that the country had done all it could to be on the list, and was in constant discussions with the British government. 

In a Facebook post earlier, the minister described the news as a disappointment for the sector. 

“This disappointment comes from the fact that our country is the only European country that has achieved herd immunity, is at the forefront of the vaccination programme and also has the lowest rate of infections in the European Union.”

When asked how the UK's announcement will affect summer tourism, Bartolo said that he wanted to ensure the recovery of the sector in a way that ensured that the health of both the Maltese and visiting tourists was safeguarded.

Asked if the government is preparing to assist hoteliers dependent on the British market, the minister said that the government will continue with its marketing efforts in other European countries. 

"Thanks to the diverse marketing strategy, we have seen an interest and a number of bookings from Germany and France."

The minister would not go into the amount spent on advertising Malta as a destination to the UK market saying instead that the government had not advertised just in the UK but also in other European countries. 

He said, however, that the sum spent on marketing Malta in the UK would eventually be published as part of the Malta Tourism Authority's (MTA) audited accounts. 

According to a 2019 MTA 'Tourism in Malta' report, 211,546 German tourists arrived in Malta in 2019, 6.8% fewer than in the previous year, when 226,962 German tourists had visited. 

The number of French tourists, on the other hand, had increased by 12.1% with 239,140 arrivals in 2019.

At 11.7% and 10.6% respectively, Germany and France are among the top six source countries for students who come to Malta to study English.


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