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77% drop in Malta student arrivals in 2020

Student arrivals in Malta from January to September this year fell to just 15,361 compared to 67,884 the previous year – a 77% decrease, a survey of 21 of the country’s English language schools has shown.

MaltaMaltese English language schools were hit hard by Covid-19. Photo: Unsplash

Student weeks decreased by 68%

In April, May and June, just 700 English language students arrived in Malta compared to 22,800 over the same period in 2019, the survey from Federation of English Language Teaching Organisations Malta and Deloitte revealed.

In the first nine months of 2020, student weeks also decreased by 68% to 55,000 compared to the same period last year.

However the report noted that the lower numbers of students was “partially offset by a longer average length of stay that went from 2.6 in 2019 to 3.6 in 2020”, attributable to travel restrictions preventing non-EU students already in the country from returning home.

“Covid-19 hit us at the end of February. Our schools were closed by March 13 because the government closed our airport,” explained FELTOM CEO James Perry in a recent interview with The PIE News.

“We are expecting an 80% loss for this year”

“It was a devastating year… By March 16, we already had 20,000 cancellations. Then it went up to 40,000, then to nearly 62,000 by the end of the year. We are expecting an 80% loss for this year.”

Numbers rose in July to 2,700 due to the reopening of the airport but still remained far below 2019’s July intake of 15,500.

“Since then, schools have had systems in place in order to ensure that if there is a case, they can deal with it,” Perry continued.

“That brought a bit of positivity to ensure that the industry does not die down. However, it creates new expenses in operations.”

In terms of revenue, the total industry revenue dropped 95% in Q2 and 86% in Q3, with the report stating that “on a per student week basis total revenue decreased from €300 to €135 in Q2 and from €413 to €288 in Q3”.

With tuition revenue accounting for 55% and 43% of total revenue in Q2 and Q3 respectively, tuition revenue per student week decreased by 47% and 39%. Decreases were also seen in accommodation revenue.

“The fact that we were open gave us the possibility of some students coming in and generating a bit of income,” Perry added.

“We are expecting Q1 and Q2 [2021] to be the same. We are hoping that, especially with the vaccine, maybe around Easter we can get somewhere and it will be a positive year.”

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