Throughout the pandemic, destinations have been getting creative with ways to lure travelers—from Sicily, which announced plans to subsidize trips with discounted travel, to Cyprus, which was offering a free vacation if you got diagnosed with Covid-19 while you were there. Now the latest place to start enticing travelers with cash is the glamorous European island nation of Malta, which will pay you to visit this summer—if you can get there, that is. As of now, this Mediterranean destination is still closed to U.S travelers. But anything can happen between now and June, when this attractive new program will launch.
Here’s how it works: The Malta Tourism Authority will pay money to each traveler for booking a three-night stay at select hotels. And the plan is tiered: You’ll get €100 (about $119) per person for booking a five-star hotel, €75 (about $89) for a four-star property and €50 (about $60) for a three-star.
That’s not all—the payments will be matched by the hotels, meaning the amounts will actually be double. So you could earn up to €200 (about $238) for a three-night stay at a five-star hotel. And it keeps getting better: Travelers who go to Malta’s smaller island of Gozo will get an additional 10% on top of the payout.
The initiative was developed by the Malta Tourism Authority in an attempt to jumpstart tourism, which accounts for more than 27% of Malta’s economy. In 2019, 2.7 million foreigners visited, but that number was slashed by 80% during the pandemic. “The scheme is aimed at putting Malta’s hotels in a very competitive position as international tourism restarts,” Clayton Bartolo, Malta’s tourism minister, said in a statement. In all, the scheme will cost Malta around €3,500,000 (about $4.1 million).
And while there is no set date for when Malta will be completely open to tourism, the island has been slowly reopening. According to the Malta Tourism Authority, nonessential shops and services are set to open on April 26 and groups of up to four people will be able to gather in public.
Meanwhile, even though the CDC has Malta at a level 4 for a very-high level of Covid, numbers have been decreasing on this island of 500,000 residents. Since March 10—which saw a record-setting 510 new cases—numbers have come down. According to Malta Today, there were only 59 new cases and 561 active cases as of April 13. Malta also has the highest vaccination rate in the EU, with 42% of adults having received at least one dose.
But back to the travel deal. Given how lucrative it is, we think this is a good moment to start dreaming about a trip to Malta—a place that is known for its rich history, gorgeous beaches, cinematic backdrops and more. Check out these photos of Malta’s most beautiful places.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Malta’s tiny capital of Valletta is a walled city that was established in the 1500s. It’s one of the smallest capital cities in Europe—and one of the prettiest.
The island of Gozo has been inhabited since the Bronze Age. It is home to another UNESCO World Heritage Site: the Cittadella, a fortified town overlooking Gozo’s capital town of Victoria. There, a citadel rises sharply from the landscape and is visible from almost all the island.
Comino is a small Mediterranean island located between the islands of Malta and Gozo. It’s virtually uninhabited, doesn’t allow cars and only has one hotel.
Set on hilltop in the northernmost section of the island of Malta is the village of Mellieha. Known for its spectacular views, Mellieha overlooks Malta’s largest sandy beach.
Marxaslokk is an old fishing village where the picturesque harbor is filled with traditional colorful Maltese boats.
St. Paul’s Island
Set on the main island of Malta, St Paul’s (also known as Selmunett) is popular with with sailboats and swimmers, who enjoy coming here to explore its quiet coves. This bay is famous for being the location that Saint Paul washed ashore after being shipwrecked on his way to Rome.