Three days after Gozo reopened its doors to Maltese and foreigners, operators and people who earn their living from tourism told TVM that the first positive signs were beginning to be felt.
They said that several Maltese had already booked a short holiday for this weekend, while all signs point to a good summer for the accommodation and restaurant sector, if the pandemic remains under control.
After two months with limited inter-island travel, only for essential reasons and for property owners in Gozo, as soon as restrictions were lifted last Monday things started looking up, particularly as far as the number of Maltese day trippers. There was more activity on the Gozo Channel ferries which today announced that from next week it will start operating the summer schedule.
The Chief Executive of the Gozo Tourism Association, Joe Muscat, said that the difference was felt immediately, especially the presence of the Maltese.
“Our establishments, both housing and catering, have already started to see a difference. Where many of them were closed because of restrictions, now there seems to be a demand. There is a demand from the local market that is booking up accommodation, even for the coming weekend and we feel that this augurs well for the summer. Obviously it will not be business as usual, but it seems that during the summer or establishments will be quite busy. ”
Mr Muscat said the association was surprised that the UK had left Malta off its green travel list but claimed that the fact that Germany had included Malta in this list has already began to bear fruit and requests from the German holiday market in Gozo had started to trickle in.
“The foreign market depends on many circumstances, but the demand from Europe is there. Today our establishments are telling us that much of their work at present involves responding to requests they are receiving. We hope then that these requests eventually develop into bookings. ”
He expressed hope that there would be no need to reintroduce measures as had happened last summer. He said that with many people vaccinated and with a sense of vigilance and caution, he believes that the tourism sector can continue.
A hotel and restaurant operator said that when Gozo was closed to travel, the challenges for them were great.
Albert Camilleri said “it was a difficult time both because of the accommodation and trying to to keep all the employees with us. For us employees are an asset. We always kept in mind that it is important that when we open they are with us, so it was challenging for us to have kept all the employees and continued business during the quasi-lockdown. ”
Mr Camilleri confirmed that bookings for next summer were coming in and a good summer was anticipated, both for foreigners and Maltese, who he said form an essential part of tourism in Gozo.