August arrivals reach 50% of pre-pandemic numbers

Statistics issued by the Malta International Airport show that by the end of August, 407,435 passengers had used the Maltese terminal. This is close to 50% of August 2019 arrivals, and marks the highest traffic observed since February 2020.

By contrast in July, we had achieved less than 40% of 2019 arrivals, and in June the ratio had been of just 26%. August was therefore nearly twice as good as June. Analyists who spoke to TheJournal.mt said that these figures exceeded the industry’s expectations.

Tourism figures are one of three variables identified by TheJournal.mt to analyse the Maltese economy’s post-COVID revival.

Record property sales

Turning to the real estate market, the National Statistics Office has just released data pertaining to this sector’s performance during August of this year. In this month, 1,137 contracts were signed involving the sale of residential property, with an overall value worth €239 million. This value is an absolute record for this month in the history of our country. Not only was it 38% higher than in August 2020, but it was also 8% more than August 2019. Taking the first eight months of 2021, purchases of residential property were a quarter of a billion euros more than in the same period before the pandemic.

Before the stamp reduction measure was announced, the number of contracts signed had fallen to only 552, or a value of just over €100 million. This means that in August purchases were almost two and a half times that amount.

The prospects for the property market also seem very positive. In the first eight months of this year 10,050 promises of sale were made, as against just over 6,700 in the same months of 2020, and less than 8,300 before the pandemic. This means that for every four promises-of-sale made in 2019, five have been made this year.

Private consumption on the rise

Finally, some thoughts on the state of private consumption. While the Opposition speaks about how households are squashed by the cost-of-living, ignoring Eurostat data showing that Malta has the lowest inflation rate in Europe, the European Commission survey on economic sentiment shows that Maltese and Gozitan families are the most optimistic across the EU.

A majority of 12% are expecting their financial situation to improve, while an even stronger majority, of 25%, believe our country’s economy will expand this year. This when in the EU most households still expect their national economy to deteriorate further.

Maltese and Gozitan families have told the Commission that they feel they can afford to undertake above-normal expenditure outlays.

Moreover, they believe that even if they do so, they will still be able to save more. This is attested by the fact that bank deposits of households have now reached a record €15 billion. A quarter of households are doing so well that they have not even yet used their government vouchers.

In Europe, by contrast, most households are telling the European Commission that they cannot afford to undertake significant consumption, worried as they are about a possible rise in unemployment and weaker economic growth.

GDP figures for the third quarter will be issued towards the end of November, but it is safe to say that based on these three key indicators we can look forward to yet another very high rate of economic expansion.

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