Malta’s cruise tourism is experiencing dramatic growth from the North American market, with a record-breaking total of 93,482. This represents an increase in 2017 over the previous year of 24% for the American market (total 72,612) and a 30% increase for the Canadian market (20,870). The North American Market represents almost 1/6 of the total cruise passengers to Malta worldwide which in 2017 was 670,000 (an increase of 7%).

One of the major factors for this growth of cruise passengers from North America is the increase of American Cruise Lines traveling to Malta. From just a few to 13 including: Azamara, Celebrity, Crystal Cruises, Cunard, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Oceania Cruises, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Regent Seven Seas, Seabourn, Silversea Cruises and Windstar.

Cruise Ship Arriving at the Grand Harbour/Photo courtesy of
Cruise Ship Arriving at the Grand Harbour/Photo courtesy of

Valletta 2018 – Europe’s Capital of Culture

This year will be an especially exciting year for cruise passengers to visit Malta because Valletta, the homeport, is celebrating being crowned as the European Capital of Culture 2018. The streets of Valletta, Malta’s capital, are a vibrant blend of old and new. The Maltese capital is a UNESCO World Heritage Site built as a city-fortress by the Knights of St John following the Great Siege of 1565. Valletta is a beautiful residential city, yet it is also the administrative and commercial hub of the Maltese islands as well as a top attraction for visiting cruise passengers and tourists.

Beyond the economic benefits that each cruise ship visit generates, there is also the positive contribution of showcasing some of the highlights of the Maltese archipelago to day trippers who use their social media networks to promote their Maltese experience to friends and family. Surveys of Cruise passengers have also shown that many cruise passengers enjoy this “taste” of Malta so that they want to return to Malta and Gozo for a longer holiday.

Stephen Xuereb, CEO of Valletta Cruise Port and COO of Global Ports Holding, commented: “Valletta Cruise Port together with local stakeholders pulls all ropes to ensure that Malta continues to excel as a cruise destination. Excellent passenger satisfaction ratings for Valletta’s port services and Destination Malta, also mirrored by comments received from the cruise line executives, give us renewed energy to continue working relentlessly to exceed expectations.”

In fact, Malta tourism in general has experienced great increases from all markets. Record results for inbound tourism from January to December 2017 totaled almost 2.3 million, marking an increase of 15.7% over the previous year. Total nights spent in Malta increased by 10.3%. In 2017 the tourism industry contributed 1.9 billion euro to Malta’s economy.

The Grand Harbour/Photo courtesy of
The Grand Harbour/Photo courtesy of

Carlo Micallef, Malta Tourism Authority’s (MTA) Chief Marketing Officer adds that, “2017 was not only a stellar year of tourism growth for Malta as a stand-alone destination but represents the culmination of consecutive years of record growth for tourism to Malta, Gozo and Comino. This type of performance is unprecedented in a number of ways. Tourism, which has experienced static performances in the past, is now seeing the numbers climb to new heights. It has also seen Malta out-perform Global, European and Mediterranean average growth rates year after year.”

Micallef added, “Formerly a destination which, at best, hoped to emulate the success of its competitors, Malta has now changed into one which outperforms average results and grows at rates higher than most of its competitors after developing a tourism industry that is active and vibrant all year round.”

According to Michelle Buttigieg, Malta Tourism Authority’s representative for North America: “The dramatic growth in cruise passengers from the US & Canada is also reflected in the major increase in overall tourism from these markets. Tourism arrivals in 2017 from the US, totaled 33,758 representing an increase of 35.2 % over 2016 and for Canada, a total of 14,083 arrivals in 2017, an increase of 1.5 % over 2016.”