The number of tourists choosing Malta rose by seven per cent in the first quarter of this year compared to last, and gives vindication to the Maltese hotels and holidays lobby who had urged the government to allow low cost airlines to fly to the island.
The first three months of the year are traditionally the quietst for the Malta holidays industry, and is thought to reflect the year as a whole so far, with perhaps even a close to ten per cent increase in tourism overall for 2007 compared to 2006.
The surprise among the statistics is where the tourists have come from. Many people in the Malta holidays industry expected a big increase in visitors from the UK, but visitor numbers have remained static, as they have from Germany and France. The increase in visitors came from Russia, Sweden, Belgium and Italy. Good news comes not only from the increase in tourist numbers, but also from the amount tourists spend while on the island - some ten per cent higher than 2006.
Another airline has joined the race for the flight to Malta market, putting pressure on the low cost airlines already operating to Malta to further reduce their prices to stay ahead of their competition, - all good news for consumers and the Malta hotels and holidays industry.
But unlike some of the airlines running operations to and from Malta, Click Air will be flying in the peak holiday months of June to October, bringing in around 12,000 tourists to the island, a fraction of the estimated 200,000 tourists anticipated during 2007 delivered by low cost airlines as a whole.
Regular travellers to Malta have never had it so good. Not only has their choice of airline and airports serving Malta widened considerably, but the perennial favourite of many business and holiday travellers, Air Malta, has fought back against the new low cost airlines with reduced fares and offers of their own.
In their traditional market of flights from the UK to Malta, the airline started a new route from Liverpool's John Lennon airport in May, serving the north-west of England.
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.
As part of their offensive to retain current passengers and to tempt new ones to use the airline, Air Malta are offering clients the opportunity to book flights in advance for this autumn and winter with prices starting from around 20 Euros (around US $25).
If successful the extra tourists for Malta in her off-peak months will be a welcome boost for the island's hotels and holiday trade, coming off the back of a summer that could see the ten per cent rise in arrivals compared to last year achieved, building on the seven per cent already reported for the first three months of 2007.
Britain's favourite TV soap and the world's longest running drama, Coronation Street, is also playing a part in boosting Malta, according to a UK based Malta holidays guide. Aired in late July and early August, the soap ran a storyline of two of Coronation Street's characters taking a last minute holiday to the island. The episodes featured Eileen, played by Sue Cleaver and Steve, played by Simon Gregson initially in the capital Valletta, before heading to a hotel by the Mediterranean.
According to the Malta travel guide the number of visitors to the travel guide's internet site more than doubled on the evenings immediately after the episodes featuring Malta were screened compared to normal, and the overall impact is still bringing benefits.