Facts vs fiction

The rise in Maltese travelling abroad this year, and how it compares with 2009.

Opposition spokespersons have taken a liking to alternative history. They like to argue that the plight of families in our country is dire when compared to what it had been before 2013, under the benevolent leadership of Dr Lawrence Gonzi. Wedded to a post-truth narrative, they never bother to check basic facts.

No one contests the fact that the inflation rate is high at present and that this is affecting the consumption of some households. However, official data on travel abroad by Maltese residents clearly show that most households are still managing to keep a rather good standard of living. The total of overseas trips by Maltese residents reached the record figure of 595,717 by September this year. This means that, on average, every person living in Malta or Gozo travelled at least once in the first nine months of the year. There was a 41% increase in the number of people who travelled over the amount registered a year ago, a rise of 174,232 people travelling.

In contrast, in the first nine months of 2009, when our country had experienced an economic crisis and the Nationalist Government had sent electricity bills sky-high in response, the number of Maltese and Gozitans going abroad had fallen by 1%, or by 1,905, over the previous year. Back then, only 229,664 persons travelled, or 40% less than the amount this year.

Those who travelled during the first nine months of this year spent more than half a billion euros on their travels. This meant an average of €904 per head. Under the Nationalist administration’s watch, the amount spent amounted to €200 million and each person who travelled spent an average of less than €500.

Eurostat’s EU-SILC data indicate that in 2009 almost two thirds of Maltese and Gozitans said that they could not afford a holiday abroad. This was a rate that was about double that observed in the rest of the European Union. The rate of Maltese and Gozitans who say they cannot afford a trip abroad started to fall after 2014, when the electricity bills were reduced. Today the rate is half what it had been under the Nationalist administration and is like the European average.

As usual, matching facts with the Opposition’s rhetoric is quite a struggle.

 Change between 2023 and 2022  Change between 2009 and 2008
Maltese who travelled  +174,232-1,905
Maltese who said they could not afford a holiday33%64%

Photo: Quintin Gellar

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