To holiday in Malta and not spend a day in Gozo is to miss out on one of the
delights of the Mediterranean. And for the 400,000 day trippers who step ashore
in Gozo each year, the brief visit invariably inspires a longer return stay.
With its laid-back lifestyle, scattering of villages and appealing rural
ambience, Gozo is a world apart from its larger neighbour. It’s where the
mainland Maltese go in summer for long weekends to escape their own crowded
roads and resorts.
«Gozo’s open space and greenery makes for a different holiday experience
altogether, especially in winter and spring when the island is at its best,»
said Malta Tourist Office UK and Ireland director Michael Piscopo.
«Day trippers from Malta see the highlights and many come back another year
to enjoy a longer stay. We are actively promoting Gozo as a destination in its
own right and it can easily be combined with Malta in a twin-centre holiday.»
The three five-star hotels and four four-star properties on the island
attract mainly couples. They are drawn to the peace and quiet of rural hotels
such as Ta’ Cenc, the Kempinski San Lawrenz Resort and the Cornucopia, a
Belleair Holidays sales and marketing manager Richard Gamber said: «Malta and
Gozo are like chalk and cheese. Gozo clients are typically a bit older, perhaps
45-plus empty-nesters with more money who don’t want the commercialisation of
Sliema or St Julian’s.»
However, families are now being attracted by the growing number of Gozo
farmhouses converted into holiday accommodation that have up to four bedrooms.
What started as a tourism experiment in the early 1980s has now become one of
Gozo’s strong selling points.
«These old farmhouses have been beautifully modified and now have their own
pools,» said Gozo Holidays manager Louise Ridley. «They are increasingly
popular, especially with families, and we’ve added more to our programme this
With historic sites ranging from the 5,000-year-old Ggantija temple complex
to the citadel and cathedral of the island’s capital Victoria and about 50
churches and chapels, Gozo has plenty to keep culturally inclined visitors
For more active types, TUI brand Headwater Holidays has a seven-night
half-board walking holiday based on a stay at Gozo’s five-star Ta’ Cenc Hotel.
Clients are provided with six walking itineraries of five to 10 miles and the
holiday leads in at ё727.
Gozo also has niche market appeal. Sunspot deputy managing director Nick
Bugeja said hotel weddings are becoming increasingly popular. With limited
public transport options in Gozo to access the rural hotels, outlying villages
and small sandy beaches dotted around the island, operators report strong
take-up for car rental. Prebooked car hire starts at ё112 a week with Belleair
and from ё126 with Sunspot for summer 2006.
Getting to Gozo became easier in March, when Spanish company Helicopteros del
Sureste took on the operation of the helicopter link from Malta International
Airport that was dropped by Air Malta last year.
An average of 20 flights a day now operate during the summer with eight daily
Travel Weekly November 11, 2005