First it was digital nomads. Now will “state-sponsored stipends” become part of the mainstream global lexicon?
As we have discussed at length, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected employers and employees across the world. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, governments have implemented measures to address the economic impact of the pandemic, including job retention schemes and promoting remote work. Last year, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the governments of Barbados and Estonia took a dynamic approach to changes in the workplace and introduced digital nomad visas that allow individuals to live in those countries while they work for foreign employers.
Just as employers and employees have been forced to adapt to the changing workplace environment, the tourism economy has been affected tremendously as well. Countries across Europe, for example, already have lost one enchanted “European Summer” due to COVID-19 travel restrictions and lockdowns, and international travelers could not experience and enjoy the azure water of the Mediterranean. Local economies in Southern Europe in particular are dependent on summer tourism, and the thought of losing another summer travel season due to increasing COVID-19 transmission rates and slow vaccination rollouts is daunting.
Incentivizing Summer Travel in Malta
In order to revitalize its tourism-dependent economy, the Malta Tourism Authority announced a new initiative to incentivize independent travelers to visit the Maltese Islands. This program begins in June 2021 and provides travelers who book a minimum three-night stay at select hotels with (i) €100/person on every booking at a five-star hotel, €75/person on every booking at a four-star hotel and €50/person on every booking at a three-star hotel. In addition, travelers who stay at hotels on Malta’s smaller island of Gozo will receive an additional 10% incentive.
Malta has invested €3,500,000 in this program, and the government hopes that it attracts over 35,000 tourists.
Malta currently remains in a partial COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. Although childcare facilities, kindergartens and primary schools recently reopened and individuals now may visit homes for the elderly, nonessential shops and services are not scheduled to reopen until Monday, April 26, which is the same day that groups of up to four individuals may gather in public.
Tuesday, June 1, is scheduled to be Malta’s banner reopening day. On that day, Malta plans to officially reopen to travelers. Travelers visiting Malta are important to the Island nation, as tourism is reportedly responsible for 27% of the country’s economy. Although 2.7 million tourists visited Malta in 2019, that number dropped by 80% in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently has Malta listed at the “Level 4: Very High” COVID-19 advisory level, which informs Americans to avoid all travel to the nation. According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, Malta has had 29,720 COVID-19 cases and 403 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. It is reported that 42% of adults in Malta have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccination, which is the highest rate in the European Union.
We continue to monitor all aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the US and across the globe.