ELT association Feltom has taken matters into its own hands and is working on behalf of the sector to run a campaign with the Malta Tourism Authority to help recruit more families.
Host family training and financial incentives have been mooted in the national press, but Genevieve Abela, CEO at Feltom, said campaign planning is still in its early stages.
This efforts is a “reaction to the need for host families,” she said. “We’ve just had an election – we are still getting support from new ministers on this.”
“Schools are finding it a struggle to find accommodation for all the requests coming in, due to tourism looking like it’s having a bumper year as well”
Host families are particularly requested by over-18 year olds keen on a full immersion experience, with over 60% of this age group staying with host families typically. About 1,200 are approved by the MTA.
However, normal attrition of host families, compounded by a tourism tax for host families introduced by the government this year, means supply being squeeze more than normal.
“Schools are finding it a struggle to find accommodation for all the requests coming in, due to tourism looking like it’s having a bumper year as well,” Abela told The PIE News.
The problem is worsened by reports that hotels will not accept block bookings for students in the summer.
“Malta is the only English language destination with officially licensed homestays, a unique selling point,” noted Abela.
Around 77,000 foreign students attended English language courses last year, a quarter of them in July.