Being paid to go on holiday is a dream for many, but those on the other side of the world lucky enough to be travelling to Malta this summer could see that dream become a reality.
The European island nation, plonked in the Mediterranean Sea, is looking to jumpstart its tourism economy by encouraging travellers to stay in its hotels from June - though sadly, it's unlikely Australians will be able to take advantage of the offer.
The scheme, which was announced last Friday (9 April), has been introduced by the Malta Tourism Authority.
Visitors who book a three-night stay in select hotels will receive compensation on a scaled basis and the amounts will be matched by hotels.
For example, those who book into one of the select five star hotels will receive €100 (A$155) from Malta Tourism Authority and €100 (A$155) from the hotel for a total of €200 (A$310) per person, per booking.
Those at select four star hotels will receive €150 ($233) per person, per booking and if you opt for a three star hotel, you can expect to receive €100 (A$155) per person, per booking.
Those who stay on Malta’s smaller island of Gozo will also receive an additional 10 per cent on top of their compensation.
Tourism accounts for more than 27 per cent of Malta’s economy, and the country attracted more than 2.7 million foreign visitors in 2019.
Since March 2020, when the pandemic spread to Europe, tourism numbers have dropped by 80 per cent.
Malta is allocating €3.5 million (A$5.44m) to the scheme and it hopes to attract over 35,000 visitors this year.
Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo said in a statement: “The scheme is aimed at putting Malta’s hotels in a very competitive position as international tourism restarts.”
Bartolo added that he was having talks to encourage travel between Malta and the UK, as British tourists account for a third of tourists to Malta annually.
Malta currently has the highest coronavirus vaccination rate in the European Union having given at least one dose to 42 per cent of its adult population. It has also seen a sharp drop in COVID-19 cases and will officially open for tourism on 1 June.
For this reason, it’s likely that Malta will be placed on the ‘green’ list in the UK government’s recently-announced traffic light scheme.
The traffic light system will categorise countries based on risk. To assess this, the government will consider key factors including the percentage of the country’s population that has been vaccinated, the rate of infection, the prevalence of variants and other scientific data.
Countries will then be categorised into green, amber and red lists - with no quarantine required for green listed countries.
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