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Tourism activities are largely acknowledged as an important source of income for the economy. Thus the National Statistics Office (NSO) has for many years strived to measure tourism flows accurately, effectively and in a timely manner.

In the past, NSO relied on the information found in the cross-border cards which all passengers where required to complete. When Malta joined the European Union, this was no longer possible; thus NSO introduced the Tourstat survey at the Malta International Airport (MIA) and Seaport, with the intention of measuring the demand for tourism services. At the same time, a survey on collective accommodation known as Accomstat was launched. In this case, the supply of tourism services is measures.

Furthermore NSO relies on various forms of administrative data sources to measure cruise passengers and to calibrate its survey information. These sources include statistics published by the Malta International Airport (MIA) and Transport Malta (TM).

Today data collection in the field of tourism is governed by European Regulation No 692/ 2011. This in turn replaced Council Directive 95/ 57 EC.

Data collection and dissemination

On a monthly basis, the Information Society and Tourism section publishes four News Releases in the field of tourism; namely:

  1. Departing Tourists
  2. Collective Accommodation Establishments
  3. Outbound Tourism
  4. Cruise Passengers

The Departing Tourists news release is the result of information collected in the ongoing Tourstat survey and measures Inbound Tourism from a demand perspective. Information contained in this news release covers tourism arrivals, by nationality, age-group and gender, type of accommodation and number of night spent, as well as valuable expenditure information. The latter is also used internally by other units within NSO such as the Balance of Payments and the National Accounts sections, as well as for Tourism Satellite Accounts (TSA).


Results from the Accomstat census are disseminated via the Collective Accommodation Establishments news release. This publication measures tourism activities undertaken by residents and non-residents in hotels, guesthouses, apart-hotels and hostels. Based on the information collected through Accomstat, NSO is able to estimate the occupancy rate in collective accommodation as well as to portray tourism flows at a regional level (i.e. making a distinction between Malta and Gozo). Furthermore the resident information given in this news release can be viewed as a partial measure of Domestic Tourism.

The Tourstat survey is also used to measure Outbound Tourism, which refers to the activity of Maltese residents abroad. The information given in this news release is similar to that contained in the Departing Tourists news release and is also a component of TSA.

Lastly the Cruise Passengers news release is based on administrative data which NSO receives from Transport Malta. This data constitutes a measure of same-day visitors to the island divided by nationality, age-group and gender.

Over and above what is issued in the news releases, tourism information concerning Malta, may be found online, in the NSO StatDB, as well as on the Eurostat website.

NSO upholds its legal obligations to transmit data to Eurostat as outlines in Commission regulation No 692/2011. Domains covered by this regulation include, Outbound and Domestic Tourism from the demand side, and Capacity in Collective Accommodation from the supply side.

Useful definitions in tourism statistics:

Visitor – Any person travelling to a place other than that of his/her usual environment for less than 12 months and whose main purpose of trip is other than the exercise of an activity remunerated from within the place visited.

Tourist – A visitor who stays at least one night in a collective or private accommodation in the place/ country visited.

Inbound Tourists – Non-residents travelling to and saying in a country which is outside their usual environment

Outbound Tourists – Residents travelling outside the country and outside their usual environment

Domestic Tourism – Residents of a given country travelling within the country but outside their usual environment

A person is considered a Resident if s/he has been living in the country for most of the last 12 months, or if s/he has lived in the country for a shorter period of time but  intends to return within 12 months to live in that country. This is true irrespective of one’s nationality/ country of birth.

Same-day Visitors – visitors who do no spend the night in neither collective nor private accommodation in the place/ country visited.

Collective Accommodation establishment – An establishment that provides overnight lodging for the traveller in a room or some other unit, which must come under a common management, even if it is non-profit making. Eurostat eGovernment Survey Website Level A conformance icon, W3C-WAI Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 at time of deployment