The destination welcomed 1.8 million arrivals during the first eight months of this year, which was an increase of 15.7% compared with the same period in 2017. Total bed nights also rose by 14.1% to 12.8 million nights.
The previous annual record for international arrivals to Malta was 2.3 million, recorded in 2017.
The UK continues to be Malta’s largest inbound market, with 429,000 arrivals up to the end of August 2018 – representing a market share of around 24%.
Malta’s other major markets also saw increases with the number of Italian arrivals going up by 7.7% to 279,000, and both France and Germany seeing increases of 22% and 25% respectively.
The island’s profile has been boosted by its capital Valletta being designated as a European Capital of Culture in 2018. This has seen the city host a series of cultural events and festivals throughout the year, which will reach a finale with a closing ceremony in St George’s Square on December 15.
Malta Tourism Authority hopes to keep up this momentum into 2019 by promoting the new Valletta Trail that visits the major Unesco World Heritage Sites, including the Grand Harbour and Waterfront.
The country’s airport has also been smashing passenger records this year, and this is likely to continue into 2019 with UK airline Jet2.com adding a new route from Glasgow Prestwick and Ryanair launching flights from Cardiff and Exeter for next summer.
The Paceville tourist area is set for a €10 million renovation to improve its infrastructure with the aim of turning the district into an “upmarket tourist destination”. Currently, around 25% of tourists stay in Paceville, which equates to about 600,000 visits per year.
Other initiatives include The Film Trail, which links the locations used for major movies and TV series such as Gladiator, The Da Vinci Code and Game of Thrones.
Malta is also on course to achieve plastic-free status for coastal areas by March 2019 when it hopes to secure certification from White Flag International that its beaches and surrounding areas are free from plastic and non-degradable waste.