News ID: 206801
Published: 0912 GMT December 24, 2017

Record visitors to Malta museums but numbers don't reflect tourist arrivals

Record visitors to Malta museums but numbers don't reflect tourist arrivals

The surge in tourist arrivals this year was not reflected in the number of people visiting museums and heritage sites, according to Heritage Malta, despite a record year in attendances.

Acting chief executive Noel Zammit said that while he was satisfied with the record number of visitors to Heritage Malta sites, the increase was not proportional to the increase in tourist arrivals, reported.

“This means that, at face value, we could have done better,” he said.

“It could be a matter of marketing, or the quality and type of tourist, or even the time of year marking high inbound tourism, but whatever the reason we can always do better.”

Zammit said that comparing statistics up to November, Heritage Malta registered a 10 percent increase over 2016, ‘another record year’, and a 16 percent increase over 2015.

Malta received nearly two million tourists last year, 10 percent more than in 2015. Around 1.2 million tourists visit national heritage sites every year.

Zammit said that the feedback from foreign visitors was mostly positive, although ‘of course this depends on the type of tourist’.

After years of losses, Heritage Malta finally registered a profit, and according to the acting CEO, this was thanks in no small part to the government’s controversial citizenship for cash program.

Financing raised through the Individual Investor Programme, he said, helped fund the documentation of the Grand Salon at the National Museum of Archeology, the Bells and Chimes project at the Maritime Museum and several new storage systems, among other projects.

“These important projects are normally put on the back burner due to other, more important and pressing issues, however, through IIP funds, we managed to implement these projects as well,” he said.

Heritage Malta in recent years has invested in the presentation of the island’s cultural heritage in ways to improve the overall visitor experience — particularly through the introduction of audiovisual and interactive installations.

As for the challenges ahead, Zammit believes that next year will be no ordinary year. In 2018, Valletta will take on the title of European Capital of Culture, which he says will present a number of challenges.

The MUŻA Art Museum, a Valletta 2018 flagship project, will be launched towards the middle of next year and will host a number of exhibitions for the remainder of 2018.

But that is not the only opening.

Heritage Malta will unveil a new space at Fort St Elmo, a 3D room at St Paul’s Catacombs and a new section at the Archaeology Museum, to name just a few.

“We already have a jam-packed calendar of events for next year, and we certainly will have something going on for everybody,” he said.

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