Malta Gets Boost From North America

Marsaxlokk is a picturesque traditional fishing village in the southeastern region of Malta.

Like Matera, a lot of filming goes on in Malta, such as “Gladiator,” “Troy” and season one of “Game of Thrones.” But that’s not why the island nation is welcoming increasing numbers of Americans — 20,956 during the first half of 2018, a 28.2 percent increase over the same period last year. Michelle Buttigieg, North America representative for the Malta Tourism Authority (MTA), tells us the genesis of this renewed interest dates back four years when the MTA reopened its U.S. office. 

“For 10 to 12 years we had no representation,” she says. Now a concerted effort to “educate the sellers,” the tour operators and the media about all that Malta had to offer is paying off. Malta has appeared on several media lists over the past few years, includingThe New York Times’ influential annual “Places to Go” slate. Buttigieg also cites increased connectivity, more tour operator itineraries and growing cruise ship arrivals.

Where should your clients go, what should they do, and when to come to Malta? Here are some of Buttigieg’s suggestions:

Most visits start in the capital, Valletta (a 2018 European Capital of Culture), built by Knights of St. John. The first stop there should be the 16th-century Co-Cathedral of St. John, “where you’ll find the only signed painting by Caravaggio [‘The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist’],” Buttigieg tells us. Then there are prehistoric temples and the Hypogium, a Neolithic subterranean structure dating back some 6,000 years. The Valletta Trail, the MTA’s latest addition to the series of themed trails (Dive and Gatronomy are two others), showcases the capital’s culture and history.

Mdina, ‘the Silent City,’ is full of history, and the island of Gozo is kind of like the Hamptons, only more rural, with beautiful villas and great gastronomy,” Buttigieg says, adding that Maltese restaurants are renowned for their fresh seafood. She also touts the isle of Camino “surrounded by blue lagoons with water you can see clear 20 meters down. A swim around the caves is a must.”

In addition, she says, Malta’s events calendar is rather full. From music festivals to a vintage grand prix, “there’s always something going on.” And when it comes to the U.S. market, being an English-speaking country is another plus. 

Malta Gets Boost From North America

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