Malta has launched an innovative new incentive to attract visitors during the pandemic – it is effectively giving them cash when they book hotels. Olivia Palamountain reports
After a year of lockdowns, additional incentives to escape to the Mediterranean are the last thing any of us need – but don’t tell the Malta Tourism Authority, which has pledged to pay tourists to visit its islands this summer.
The surreal plan, which runs from June 2021, offers independent travellers (no tour operator bookings) up to €200 if they stay more than two nights on the island.
Malta’s tourism minister Clayton Bartolo said that “the scheme is aimed at putting Malta’s hotels in a very competitive position as international tourism restarts”. However, unfortunately the destination is not yet on the UK government’s “green list” for holidays.
How does it work? According to the official release, the Malta Tourism Authority will hand over a sum to every visitor who books at least a three-night stay directly with a range of three- to five-star hotels.
People staying at a five-star property will earn €100 per person on every booking, while guests at four-star hotels will receive €75. Three-star travellers will have €50 to spend. Fancy making an extra 10 per cent on top of that? Just head over to the neighbouring island of Gozo.
The amounts will be matched by the hotels, doubling them at every level, so that visitors can ultimately earn up to €200 for their three-night stay at a five-star hotel.
For a destination that gains 27 per cent of its revenue from tourism, renewed footfall is essential to boost the Covid-battered economy. The country saw 2.7 million visitors in 2019, but that number dropped by 80 per cent when the Covid-19 pandemic hit.
The country has set aside €3.5 million for the scheme, with the aim of attracting some 35,000 visitors as the competition for tourists hots up in vacation spots around the world.