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Maltese tourists in Sicily have hit the headlines on the Sicilian media. It was reported that over 2,000 passengers disembarked at Pozzallo from the two Virtu Ferries catamarans, the MV Saint John Paul II and MV Jean de la Valette, for the Black Friday weekend.

A further 4,500 passengers and 1,300 vehicles made it to Pozzallo over the Christmas and New Year period. Although shopping was not the main reason for visiting Sicily, Catania Today pointed out that Christmas shopping did play a part. However, most tourists were after “un po’ di relax” (some relaxing time), the paper said.

Malta’s rollout of the COVID vaccine was also praised, with the newspaper pointing out that all passengers arriving on Virtu Ferries vessels have a vaccination certificate “con doppia dose” (double dose), often also a booster, and a negative rapid test is taken before departure from Malta.

Social distancing, the paper noted, is observed on board Virtu vessels, during check-in, embarkation and disembarkation. It also commented positively on Virtu’s policy of ‘Keep Travel Simple’ (Con Virtu Ferries è più facile) and on the family-oriented departure times.

Virtu Ferries says that Maltese visitors are clearly very welcome and are being looked upon very favourably by the Sicilian tourism industry, with hotels and restaurants taking an increased interest in the Maltese market. This is particularly the case in the provinces of Ragusa, Catania and Syracuse.

The company also believes that since COVID is still very much on the agenda and people are increasingly shying away from family skiing holidays in northern Europe, the slopes of Etna, just 90 minutes from Pozzallo, may prove to be an interesting alternative this winter.

It also notes that international freight costs have soared this past year and Maltese commercial enterprises are increasingly looking to Sicily for all types of merchandise, which is an added bonus for Sicilian entrepreneurs.

Virtu is positively contributing to this increase in trade between the two islands by operating two vessels on a daily schedule with multiple trips per week and, at the same time, keeping freight rates at pre-COVID levels, against the international trend. Maltese exporters are also benefitting from this freight cost stability.

For the above-mentioned reasons, Virtu Ferries says that like the Maltese are welcome in Sicily, so are Sicilians welcome in Malta.

The company has recently announced very attractive offers for January and February and has launched its Easter schedule.