12:02 Updated with Tourism Ministry reaction
Inbound tourism increased by a massive 12.7 per cent in the first three months of 2016 when compared to 2015, figures from the National Statistics Office show.
The increase meant total nights spent and tourist expenditure also rose significantly when compared to the first three months of 2015, by 10.4 per cent and 9.3 per cent respectively.
Tourism Minister Edward Zammit Lewis hailed the result as a great success, saying that the numbers suggested that Maltese tourism was no longer reliant on the summer months. "We are overcoming our tourism's seasonality," he said.
281,341 people visited Malta between January and March, spending more than 2 million nights here between them. The NSO estimates that they spent an €209.4 million in their time here - an average of €744 each, which is 3 per cent less than than the average tourist spend in the first three months of last year.
NSO figures suggest Russian, Swedish, Swiss and American tourists are the most likely to splash out, with their average per capita expenditure all topping the €1,000 mark. The data suggests Libyan arrivals spent even more, but the NSO urged caution in reading too much into the figures due to the small size of its sample.
Italian and Irish tourists, who each spent an average of €549 and €645 respectively, were the most modest contributors to the Maltese economy.
A huge increase - 26.8 per cent - was also registered in tourists opting for private accommodation, with hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs enjoying a more modest 8.9 per cent increase in visitors.
Tourist arrival figures for March reflected the broader pattern for 2016 so far.
115,519 people visited Malta throughout last month, with 94,328 of them coming on holiday and the remaining 10,292 arriving for business trips.
The largest proportion of inbound tourists were aged between 45 and 64, with tourists in the 25-44 bracket the second most common.
The figures also show that total nights spent rose by 11.6 per cent when compared to March 2015.
Increased tourism meant total tourist expenditure also rose to €86.3 million - an increase of 10.9 per cent.
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