The impending end to the transition period following the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union has thrown further doubts on the possibility of a tourism revival following the roll out of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Incoming tourism specialists Robert Arrigo & Sons’ Director, Alan Arrigo, has however dismissed such concerns, pointing to the increasing diversification of the inbound travel market.
Reports last week indicated that the UK would be classified as a third country and thereby be subject to restrictions on such non-EU and non-EEA states, including a ban on non-essential travel from all but a few countries with relatively few cases of COVID-19.
With over 10,000 daily new cases of the novel coronavirus since early October, the UK does not meet the requirements to join Australia, New Zealand and South Korea in the very limited list of countries where the spread has been kept under control.
Mr Arrigo believes that Malta’s continually diminishing reliance on British tourists puts it in a good position to weather any such restrictions, stressing that the groundwork has already been done to diversify the offering to other source markets.
“As reports from the National Statistics Office (NSO) have shown,” he says, “Malta’s dependence on British tourists has shrunk considerably as a share of the total inbound tourism to the Maltese Islands.”
Notwithstanding the country’s broadening of source markets, local operators will doubtless welcome news from the Tourism Ministry that “travel between Malta and the UK will stay on”.
In comments made to the Malta Independent, a spokesperson for the Ministry confirmed that air travel between the two countries would not be disrupted.
Mr Arrigo predicted as much, saying that he doubts that any ban on non-essential travel by British tourists would be effected based on Brexit consideration alone.
“It’s unlikely, given the importance that the British place on their overseas holidays in the Mediterranean and how this impacts the economy of these Mediterranean destinations.”
However, he continued, referring to the Central Bank of Malta’s recent analysis on air linkages, “restoring air connections is crucial for tourism to benefit from the eventual global recovery in a post-pandemic era”.