New 2007 Air Route For Malta

By: Roger Munns

The airline that first brought low cost airlines to Malta has done well enough to start new routes to the island.

Ryanair, the Irish based low cost airline, were the first airline to win the right to fly to Malta from the island's main markets for tourism of Ireland and the UK. The first route launched has been running between London's Luton Airport since November, while the Dublin route had its inaugural flight in March. Both routes have attracted good seat occupancy levels, with tourist numbers in Malta rising.

The new route will run between Bremen in Germany to Malta and will be a welcome addition for Malta's attempt to attract more German tourists to the island.

Operating three times a week, it is hoped that the first flights will begin in September. Before the new flights began last November, estimates suggested that the low cost airline could add an extra 80,000 tourists to the island in 2007, but this figure has been radically upgraded to double that.

Malta's slow pace of life might have contributed to the late introduction of low cost flights compared to her competitors, or it could have been politicians and the tourist authorities more interested in protecting the island's national airline with attitudes that the rest of Europe began to shrug off in the 80's, but whatever the reason, now that Malta has allowed the low cost airlines, they can't get enough of them.

The number of visitors to Malta is up nearly ten per cent this year, thanks mainly to the extra arrivals being delivered by the low cost airlines. And the extra holiday makers couldn't have come at a better time as the island has seen steadily decreasing tourists numbers in recent years - the ultimate factor in the decision to allow the flights in.

With tourism numbers up, tourism chiefs have seen the magic bullet that has driven the statistics, and embraced the concept of low air fares whole heartedly. While Malta has previously received most of their visitors from the UK, the idea of diversification has become possible as low cost airlines operate from most European countries, and the island is already receiving flights from Germany and Spain.

The country has let it be known that they will welcome applications for flights from Scandanavia and other areas of Europe.

The u-turn is now complete, from a backward looking slow to respond tourist office, to one that sees a quick fix to Malta's previous declining popularity as a holiday destination.

Helping Malta's image in the UK, Germany and other countries have been reports placing Malta at the top of tourist safety tables.

An American journalist last year placed the small Mediterranean island of Malta as one of the five safest travel destinations in the world, and a new report from the US this year confirms Malta as one of the safest vacation spots in the world.

This year's report bears more official weight than the previous one by a travel writer, as it was compiled by the US State Department.

Commenting on Malta, the report praises the island for the non existence of organised crime, especially surprising perhaps given her proximity to mainland Italy - and closer still to Sicily.

A surprise for many who have driven in Malta is that the report considers the island's roads to be safe. But this is backed up by official EU figures showing Malta has the lowest road related fatalities in the EU.

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