The Great Potential of Theater Tourism

“To see, or not to see, that is the question.”

The Manoel Theatre in Malta’s capital city of Valletta opened in 1732. For three hundred years, this ornately-decorated gathering place for entertainment has been putting on shows for the world’s rich, famous and powerful. While it may have been upstaged by the city’s Royal Opera House in 1866, a World War II bombing raid destroyed the Opera House in 1942 and once again made the Manoel Theatre the center of thespian spectacles for Valletta.

Today, the theatre continues its grand tradition of providing entertainment for capital city visitors. Hearing of its grandiose interior, Tricia and I decided to take a tour of this legacy from the Knights of St. John.

There is a tremendous potential for theater tourism here in Malta. With the revitalization of the ruins of the Royal Opera House, coupled with the opulent splendor of the Manoel Theatre, Valletta is well-positioned to attract more sophisticated and high-spending travelers. In 2013, theater tourism in the United Kingdom pulled in US$4.3B in spending. While the stage performances in the land of Shakespeare are some of the finest in the world, Malta’s use of English as an official language presents unique opportunities to emulate British success. Considering that theater-going visitors to the UK spend roughly US$550 more than the average visitor, this may be a market worth pursuing.


For more on our visit to the Manoel Theatre, visit Tricia’s blog post.


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