English-language tourists in Malta spent €155 million in 2023

ELT schools say they are still in recovery mode from COVID-19 shutdown but trends changing with growing revenue and longer stays in Malta

English-language schools in Malta have shown remarkable resilience since the COVID-19 pandemic, with a Deloitte survey among Feltom-affiliated schools reporting increases in total revenue in 2023 of 10.9% compared to 2019.

According to the report, tuition revenue per student week also increased by 17.7% relative to 2019 and accommodation revenue also saw an increase of 7.1% compared to 2019 levels.

Addressing the event, Rebecca Bonnici, chairperson of the Federation of English-language schools, said Malta had welcomed 78,600 ELT students – a slight decrease of 6.1% compared to the 83,600 students registered in 2019 – but it was “clear that the ELT sector in Malta is on the mend.”

“Increased student weeks and the shift in seasonality indicate an interesting and positive development in the ELT sector, placing it as an important niche to drive tourist volumes in the traditional shoulder months,” Bonnici said.

Revenue growth driven by increased tuition and accommodation fees was also supported by a notable 15.2% increase in student weeks experienced by the sector when compared to 2019. This positive trend is attributed to longer stays during the shoulder months, with the average length of stay increasing from 19.8 days in 2019 to 24.3 days in 2023.

“It is clear that students are choosing to spend more time in Malta to enrich their learning experience and as a result, they are contributing more significantly to the local economy,” Bonnici said.

“While this is a trend that we intend to keep on pushing for, the growing figures are a result of a combined commitment by all stakeholders including the Ministry for Tourism, the ELT Council, the schools and all the academic staff.”

The ELT sector attracted students from non-traditional markets such as Brazil, Japan, and Colombia. Student arrivals from non-EU/EEA countries accounted for 24% of total student arrivals but represented a significant 59% of total student weeks due to the longer training programs pursued by this cohort.

The Deloitte report estimated that ELT visits accounted approximately 9.4% of total tourist guest nights, with an indicative total annual spend of some €155 million, or 5.8% of total tourist expenditure in 2023.

The report also showed how there has been a clear reduction in the seasonality of ELT students, with the first and fourth quarters of the year combined accounting for 41.2% of total student weeks in 2023, compared to 32% in 2019.

“This report matters because it tells a story. It tells a story that people choose Malta, choose to study English, choose FELTOM schools and choose excellence with our accreditation mark of excellence,” said added Jessica Rees-Jones, Feltom CEO.

“The report also reflects the ELT sector's ability to attract students from a wide range of countries. This enhances Malta's international appeal and supports the sustainability of our tourism industry,"

“As the ELT sector continues to evolve, at FELTOM, we are committed to ensuring that this sector remains a key pillar in Malta’s tourism landscape. The longer stays and the increased student weeks reflect a positive trend that if sustained, should ensure that the sector remains a robust contributor to the local economy.”