In the same month that Malta became the first EU country to reach herd immunity, according to its officials, the pretty archipelago reopened its borders, is offering financial incentives for visitors and is now welcoming tourists from 38 US states.
Malta is one of the most vaccinated destinations in Europe, with 70% of its adult population now vaccinated with at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, and 56% of the population fully vaccinated. As it gradually reopened to tourism from June 17, the Maltese government launched its "Incentives for Free Independent Travellers" scheme. It is designed to encourage independent travelers who are visiting for a minimum of three nights to directly book their holiday stays in five-, four- and three-star hotels to receive discounts.
Visitors staying at participating five-star hotels will get €100 ($120) per person towards the cost of their stay, and those staying at four-star hotels will be allocated €75 ($90) per person. Guests at three-star hotels will receive €50 ($60) per person off every booking. Participating hotels are expected to match the incentive amount granted by Malta Tourism Authority, and must allocate the same amount to the traveler to be spent on accommodation, food and beverages and other services within the hotel property, effectively doubling the discounts.
You can view the list of participating properties here. When booking hotel, travelers will receive a promotion code that can be used to redeem discounts. Most of the promotions will be valid for stays in June and July, though offers may be extended. As an added incentive, visitors to hotel properties on the island of Gozo will receive an additional 10% value on these incentives.
But it's not just hotels that are offering discounts. Visitors can also redeem a €100 voucher at a diving school in Malta; while English-language students that spend between 15 and 30 nights in Malta will be given a €10 allowance per day for food and drink. From October, visitors over the age of 65 who travel to Malta will also receive a €10 per day food and drink allowance if they spend up to 30 nights on any Maltese island.
Malta uses its own traffic light system to categorize countries and regions based on their COVID-19 situation and a number of entry restrictions remain in place. Travelers coming from 'green' or 'safe' country will only be subjected to thermal screening at the airport and must fill in a passenger locator form. Currently no countries are on the 'green' list.
Travelers coming from 'amber' countries, including most European countries, the UK, and Canada, are required to submit a negative COVID-19 PCR test certificate before boarding flights to Malta. Travelers from 'red' countries are not permitted to travel to Malta.
At present, Malta categorizes 38 US states, plus Puerto Rico and Washington D.C., as amber, including Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
The other states are listed as red.
Read more: Malta and Gozo's best beaches
As Malta reopens to tourists, it's worth noting the use of masks on beaches and at pools is still recommended. But many aspects of pre-pandemic life has returned this month, bars are open again; restaurants allow up to six people per table, and groups of up to six people are allowed to mix outdoors.
Malta will participate in the EU COVID Certificate program when it is up and running in July, and will permit any fully vaccinated EU resident, even those traveling from an 'amber' EU country to enter without providing a negative test result. It is looking at ways to safely allow more non-EU residents to enter. Meanwhile, further information on both travel restrictions and the Incentives for Free Independent Travellers scheme can be found on Malta Tourism Authority's website here.
This article was originally published on April 26, 2021 and updated on June 21, 2021.