WATCH: How are the first tourists who arrived in Malta feeling?

There were a lot of emotions at Malta International Airport among the airport staff, the airline staff and foreign passengers who arrived in Malta on the first flights after the travel ban related to Covid-19 was lifted.

Tourism Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli said that although the road is long, the aim is that by the end of this year, Malta will have welcomed 700,000 tourists.

Malta has taken the first step for the important tourism sector to start gaining momentum again by opening the airport to flights to 20 countries after more than 100 days when it was closed to all commercial flights because of the pandemic.

The CEO of the MIA, Alan Borg, appeared very satisfied that the airport was coming to life again with passengers and planes. “It is a very emotional day for our whole team, it will not be easy, as every beginning is difficult, but I believe that through a collective team effort we can achieve our numbers in the shortest time possible.”

Minister Farrugia Portelli and Economy Minister, Silvio Schembri, said that opening the airport is a signal that we are returning to a new normal.

“The airport is not just about passenger activity but you also have various other activities including MROs and cargo and that is a strong input for economic activity, in fact we will be shortly announcing a large investment in this sense,” said Minister Schembri.

“11 flights on Wednesday, 10 more on Thursday and by the end of this week a total of 81 flights, it is a modest beginning but we needed to start from somewhere. We are looking forward so that by the end of this year we will reach our target of 700,000 tourists,” said Minister Farrugia.

Last year a total of 2.7 million people visited Malta who are estimated to have contributed to around one fourth of the economic prosperity which was generated.

From 15 July, all restrictions on destinations to and from Malta will be lifted, with the hope that the airport, which a taxi driver described as the lungs of the economy, will once again start bustling with activity and with it, the economic activity of the entire country.

Meanwhile, the first tourists or foreign workers returning back to Malta after the airport re-opened appeared to be in seventh heaven, especially those who were on board the Air Malta flight from Rome who were met with flowers and a small gift.  See what they had to say here: