The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has driven many Maltese families to opt for staycations in the sister island as its popularity as a relaxing getaway shows no sign of abating.
Several short let accommodation providers in Gozo, contacted by WhosWho.mt, said they are already sold out for the New Year’s period, with Christmas bookings slowly catching up.
Baron Holiday Homes and Gozo Escape both said that both periods are fully booked, with “95 per cent” of guests being local.
Gozo Escape welcomed the strength of the local market, saying this has driven sales comparable to that of previous years.
Gozo Farmhouses also reported a sold out New Year’s period, although Christmas remains empty so far.
Head of the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA) Tony Zahra said that hotels in Gozo are reporting similar figures, saying that “it appears this will indeed be a good period”, although hotels in Malta have yet to experience the levels seen in July and August.
“We are hoping that business will pick up as we get closer to the Christmas period,” he said.
Asked whether hotels can compete with self-catering short let accommodation in this market, Mr Zahara said that comparing the prices of the two is like “comparing the price of oranges with the price of apples – they are both fruits, but they are different kinds of fruit”.
“What one can say is that hotels generally offer great value for money and for those that really want to have a break from it all hotels can offer such a break.”
“For those that wish to just move from their household to another home for a brief period,” he continued, “self-catering accommodation could be an option.”
Mr Zahra advised hotels to stick to their guns and to “carry on offering value for money through the excellent service they offer”.
He closed with a hopeful note, calling the recent announcement on the availability of vaccines “a gamechanger” and saying that the Association expects the industry to start returning to some form of pre-COVID normality by the second quarter of 2021.