Spoiled beaches, poor roads and a bad infrastructure could be costing Malta's economy millions in lost revenue, according to a travel guide for the island.
The travel guide cite examples of tourists who are unlikely to return to Malta for a holiday, and investors put off buying property due to the state of the roads.
In one case a Swiss based investor who was due to buy a home withdrew due to the state of the roads, and several holidaymakers made contact complaining about the beaches, traffic and in some cases dangerous condition of the pavements, saying they would not be making a repeat visit to the island.
'The lack of investment in Malta tourism and the island's infrastructure is turning investors and tourists away to other destinations,' the guide claim, adding that 'At a time when many Mediterranean islands are seeing an increase in visitor numbers, Malta has seen a drop of over 2 per cent in the first six months of 2006 compared to 2005, and unless there's a sharp turnaround in Malta's fortunes as a holiday destination the overall figures for the year as a whole could be even worse'.
Property prices in Malta have risen sharply in recent years, partly spurred on by Malta joining the EU in 2004.
Recent government figures showed a sixteen per cent rise in the year to March 2006.
One Malta property company however reports that the demand for property in Malta remains bouyant from the UK, US, Australian and European mainland markets, and predict a further ten per cent rise in the coming year.
'We normally see a drop off in enquiries a few months before any price levelling' explained a Tribune Property spokesman, 'But demand for Malta this year is every bit as strong as 2005 and at the moment we can only see prices going one way in the short term at least - and that's up'.
The Malta government is expected to allow developers to utilise more land for building, but some property companies see this as a negative rather than a positive move.
'Malta is an island with a finite amount of land, and while the Malta government view releasing more land for building, and more properties as the answer to increasing property prices, we believe this is the wrong approach', say Tribune, ' and in the end more developments could have an adverse impact on Malta's economy.
Tourism is an important industry for Malta, and tourists aren't impressed by cranes and construction work while they're trying to relax or go to see Malta's historical sights, and if it's a first visit to the island there's an increased chance that it will be their last, losing the Malta holidays industry repeat business.'
There has been some discontent on the island about the rising prices of property in Malta, and with less overseas buyers the possibility of prices falling and more islanders being able to get on the property ladder could be welcome news, as today's tourist is often tomorrow's property buyer.
But there has been speculation for some time now that low cost airlines are going to start offering flights to Malta, and this will help the Malta hotels and holiday market as more people consider three and four day breaks instead of the traditional week or fortnight, boosting the overall number of visitors, especially if Air Malta and the low cost airlines bring the cost of Malta flights to levels seen for the Spanish islands.
Malta has traditionally seen the majority of her visitors from the UK, but this could be changing to a more diverse mix in future years.
Last year saw a record number of visitors from Italy, and increased enquiries have been received at estate agents across the island from France, Scandanvia, Holland, and Belgium, helping to increase the demand for Malta properties.