REGARDLESS OF THE ALREADY-EARNED STATUS, THE TOURISM INDUSTRY CONTINUES ITS EFFORTS TO BOOST OFFERINGS AND IMPROVE THE COUNTRY'S APPEAL TO HOLIDAYMAKING FAMILIES.
The Mediterranean archipelago, with the main islands Malta, Gozo and Comino, is promoted as a pleasant family holiday destination offering a range of activities and rich culture, with affordability considered as an attractive factor for travelling families.
In 2016, Malta saw yet another record year with the number of tourist arrivals reaching almost two million.
Commenting on the strongest points which differentiate Malta from other Mediterranean family holiday destinations, Carlo Micallef, chief marketing officer, Malta Tourism Authority, elucidated that the Maltese islands boast multiple natural, historical and modern attractions, which, along with family-friendly accommodation, a myriad of restaurants and bespoke relaxing atmosphere, create a destination with an extra value to standard family holidays.
He enthused, "[Malta] is not just a sun, sand, sea and water sports location, but the destination offering the added value in a variety of options for all to enjoy."
Differentiating itself from the other Maltese islands, Gozo, which alone welcomed 190,000 visitors in 2016, has created an image of a tranquil gem attracting visitors and families with outdoor adventures in its unspoilt nature and away from the tourist masses typical for the region, as Esther Bajada, director, tourism and economic developments, Ministry for Gozo, described.
She also revealed, "The Ministry for Gozo promotes the island as the most rewarding extra mile, where Simplicity is Luxury."
In other words, the destination provides all the comforts and conditions for unique family holidays in typical Mediterranean surroundings which are still authentic and which create an ideal base for niche tourism, such as diving, outdoor sports and music festivals, concluded Bajada.
Julia Grech, group marketing manager, AX Hotels, summedup, "Malta caters for all kinds of tourists [...], however, [it] is a great option as a family-friendly destination because of the weather, various heritage sites and museums and many activities for children."
PLETHORA OF LODGING OPTIONS
According to Euromonitor International (EI), the destination's rising potential can also be explained by lodging operators responding to the demand for individualisation thus elevating the flexibility of accommodation, appreciated mainly by larger families.
Apart from numerous family-friendly hotels of all ranges and an expansion of boutique hotels seen in 2015, the islands boast a long tradition of short-term rentals with many holiday homes and self-catering apartments available along with the popular trend of local residents offering their homes for holiday rentals though web sites, such as Airbnb.
With the accommodation representing an important item in the budget of a travelling family, Malta offers economically and practically convenient options for any taste.
As an example of family facilities available in the hotel segment, Grech mentioned that Seashells Resort at Suncrest in Qawra, where the majority of guests in 2016 were families, features many appropriate amenities and services, such as an animation team, pools with waterslides, kids meal packages, conveniently sized family rooms and further tailored offers.
As a part of the property's preparation for the new season, she further elaborated, "Just a few months ago we opened a wellequipped kids club, boosted our animation team and increased activities for all the family."