jeudi, août 24, 2006

Wake up and Smell the Budget Airlines (II)

Anyone still harbouring any doubts that the lack of budget, no-cost, no-frills, non-subsidy airlines is grounding the Maltese within their tiny island space might want to spend a few minutes reading the latest NSO release on the Maltese and travelling. Here are the main points as reported in the press (with comments by J'Accuse):

1. The Maltese made 105,414 trips abroad by air and sea between January and June this year.
NSO kicks off with a nice figure. 1/10th of a Million. Then we notice. It is not persons. It is trips abroad. So a frequent traveller could have clocked up a number of these trips on his own. First point to note: It is not 1/3rd of the population that travels at least once between Jan and Jun of any given year. We note the first reference to "air and sea" - more about that later.

2. The figure above represents an increase of 7.6 per cent over the same period last year.
So the NSO wants us to believe that the Maltese are travelling more. They are going places. Till now the stats are inconfutable.

3. The most frequent destination was Italy, accounting for 30.9 per cent of the trips.

The NSO code is beginning to unravel. Look back up at point one. Remember "air AND SEA"? Now we find out that over 30,000 of these trips are to Italy. Hmm. Pozzallo anyone? Tax free day trip? We can stop at Misterbianco for maxishopping too!

4. At 62.2 per cent, there were many more male passengers than female.
I'll leave this stat to Daphne or Lorna to follow up. Still. It's sad that the males travellers outnumber females so much. Business trips by the boss? Are we still that imbalanced?

5. In June alone, the number of outbound passengers increased by 9.6 per cent over the same month last year, to 22,211.

OK. I have a problem now. NSO has let slip the phrase "outbound passengers". Is that the same as Maltese? I guess it is just a slip. Because 22,211 cannot include tourists returning from their June holiday in Malta. June is a good time for a boat trip incidentally. Or maybe catamaran.

6. More than 75 per cent of the increase came from departures by sea (catamaran), the majority being same-day visitors, the NSO said.

Boom. Did you hear it? The penny drop, that is. Suddenly we are gifted with the light. Now we are not sure whether the increase mentioned in point 6 relates to the June increase or to the overall increase. Still. 75 per cent of increase of Maltese outbound travelling is represented by ONE DAY BOAT TRIPPERS to the markets of Sicily.

Will government read the writing on the wall now? Why is one day tripping so popular? Because of the food and sea and sun of beautiful Sicily? Undoubtedly our big sister across the Maltese Strait is an attractive destination. BUT. The real attraction for the one day tripper is the fact that these trips have cheap prices and no exorbitant tax slapped upon them.

In fact they have no tax at all. Which would be an idea. But tell that to the Minister. He is probably in Pozzallo for the day.

P.S. Isn't Sicily where George Pullicino was seen at the height of the zones issue?

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