Travel agents: Maltese still wary of travel

Tourist agents say that Maltese customers are still wary of travelling abroad due to the pandemic 

Fancy being with your own kind?

SMS Mondial have launched a five-day cruise on the Mein Schiff liner company, for “Maltese travellers” only.

Dubbed as “the safest holiday” after cruise-liner tourism shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic, the five-day cruise will depart from Malta but dock at no port. Instead, starting from just €500, the cruise will offer travellers the usual all-inclusive luxuries found aboard the vessels.

But even as Malta registered its first full week with zero coronavirus cases, and the return of a trickle of its overseas tourist influx, travel agents speaking to MaltaToday still think Maltese customers are wary of travelling abroad.

“I don’t think people even want to think about it right now,” Royal Travel managing director Lily Muscat told this newspaper, suspecting travellers are in no rush to book any trips.

“People are so wary. A lot of people I’ve spoken to said they would wait until at least August before deciding whether they are going to travel or not this summer. Because right now, people are not even sure what their experience would be like,” Muscat said.

Malta suspended all flights in March apart from repatriation trips, shutting down a tourist industry that on average brings 2 million tourists every year. As from 1 July, the island reintroduced commercial flights from 25 countries and regions, as various countries succeeded in containing the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Like most other travel agents, the majority of what we sell are packages for long-distance destinations, and cruises… in terms of cruises they most certainly are not going ahead this summer, and things are still very up in the air when it comes to long-distance destinations,” Muscat said.

Malta International Airport has now launched a dedicated Airport Care Team (ACT) to provide extra assistance and ensure passengers remain at safe distances as it reopens to commercial flights.

“It is our responsibility to leave no stone unturned in our efforts to protect guests and airport employees. But I would also like to appeal to prospective passengers to travel responsibly by following health and safety recommendations as well as the instructions of front-liners once they are at the airport,” Malta International Airport CEO Alan Borg said.

An agglomeration detection technology at MIA will ensure that people are social distancing by sending real-time alerts to the team. Travellers will also be asked to scan their passports and boarding passes at check-in to minimise interaction of the airport’s front-line staff.

Thermal screening cameras will also be used to detect passengers who have a high temperature.

MIA’s ACT members, which total 16 employees at the airport, serve as health and safety promoters in the terminal building to boost the confidence of travellers, airport employees and the wider public.

The team, which can be identified by their blue-coloured high-visibility vests, have been trained to empathise with travellers who may be anxious due to the unusual situation, answer questions and trigger the necessary processes in case a guest or employee that shows symptoms of COVID-19 is identified.