09 February 2006

Holiday property buzz in Malta

With visitor numbers static in recent years and facing new competiton from former Eastern Bloc countries offering cheap holidays, the recent announcement by the Maltese government that negotiations were at an advanced stage with two low cost airlines has sparked hopes that the island will see a rise in visitor numbers, much to the relief of some in the tourist industry worried about the future of Malta as a holiday destination.

Even before the new carriers to the island land the existing airlines have been offering return flights at prices seemingly much lower than in the past to try and hold on to their share of the market.

Traditionally the UK has been Malta’s biggest market for incoming tourists, often making up over half of the island’s visitors in any given year, but some on the island see even this market as under threat. And property buyers from the UK have accounted for seventy per cent of Malta property sales to overseas buyers in recent years, settling in Valletta, Sliema, St Paul’s, Mellieha, St Julian’s and Qawra.

A good portion of UK visitors and property buyers for Malta in recent years have been ex-forces who served for the British during WW2 when Malta held out against Hitler’s Luftwaffe, and then in peacetime through to 1964 when Malta became independent, who returned for holidays.

But with the inevitability of this market declining a new breed of Malta’s holiday and hotel entrepreneurs see Malta’s future as less dependent on the UK tourist, and being more cosmopolitan in her outlook.

More here
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