Malta is famous around the world as the island of sun, sea, sand and history.
Millions of tourists, have in the past, made their way to the Maltese Islands every year in search of these four things, and more. Here’s hoping that they will soon be able to visit us!
But how did Malta promote itself in the past?
Check out this collection of stunning colour postcards from the 1960s.
Gozo’s Azure Window looking high, might, and above-water in the 1960s.
These days we have Facebook and Instagram to induce envy in our friends.
But before social media came along, the humble postcard was the ultimate holiday brag.
An incredible collection of postcards depicting Maltese life from around 50 years ago has been unearthed to reveal a fascinating snapshot of a more innocent time.
Once upon a time, in a galaxy far far away…parking was a thing in Sliema!
The postcards highlight how much Malta and Gozo has changed since the 1960s, and given our usual busy lives, these images are the only way that we realise how much things have actually changed.
For example, when car ownership was still considered a luxury, it is no surprise to see many of the streets virtually empty in many of the pictures.
The postcard picture above, show just a handful of cars making their way along The Strand in Sliema.
Today, it’s one of the busiest streets in Malta and is almost impossible to find a parking space in the area.
Spinola Bay, when St Julian’s was just a fishing village
Another image shows a deserted Spinola Bay with a handful of fishermen preparing their nets for the next day’s catch.
Today the St Julian’s area attracts thousands of tourists every day, with dozens of boutique hotels and high-class restaurants along the waterfront.
The small fishing harbour in St Paul’s Bay, in the 1960s
Another area will has changed dramatically changed over the years is St Paul’s Bay, which also includes Bugibba, Qawra and Xemxija. What was a seaside resort of less than 2,000 people in the 1960s, has now become one of the largest towns in Malta.
This is what a day at the beach at Mellieha Bay looked like in the 60s. Time to bring those tent-like structures back, given what we are going through?
Another postcard shows families enjoying a day of sun, sea and sand at Mellieha Bay beach.
Square tent-like structures were used to protect sun lovers from the intense summer heat were clearly all the rage in the early 1960s. These can definitely up our social-distancing game!
Square tents lining up Paradise Bay
Malta’s tourism industry was aimed almost solely at the British market from the 1950s to the 1980s. After all, Malta was as British as fish and chips until being granted independence in 1964.
The RAF, Royal Navy and British Army were all based in Malta until 1979, with thousands of soldiers, sailors, air crews and their families making the most of Malta’s glorious weather, even Her Majesty herself, who lived here for two years when she was still a Princess.
As well as these colourful postcards, tourism brochures called Malta ‘the George Cross island’ and a place where ‘you can enjoy traditional English tea every afternoon’.
1960s Malta was a little bit of Britain in the sun ‘where the locals speak your language’.
Colourful boats in Marsaxlokk, more than 50 years ago.
Vintage postcards are still popular with collectors.
Some sell on eBay for small fortunes if they are deemed to be rare and in mint condition.
Postcard enthusiast Tony Pace told Bay Retro: ‘People tend to like old postcards that remind them of their childhood or places where they grew up or visited.
‘Postcards provide a fascinating snapshot of social history in Malta.’
A BEA flight pictured at Malta’s Luqa Airport in the 1960s
‘In most scenes the streets are almost empty of cars and whole vibe looks much more relaxed and less stressed than today’s Malta.
‘It couldn’t be further from life now, where there would be cars parked either side of the road and people walking on pavements staring at their smart phones.’
Sunset at Xlendi Bay – There aren’t enough adjectives to describe this image.
However, the tradition of holidaymakers sending postcards to loved ones back home is declining dramatically.
Fewer than 500,000 are now sent each year, compared with more than 5 billion worldwide in 1951.
Carnival Celebrations in Valletta
Analyst Alexandra Richmond said: ‘Younger tourists may never have experienced the joy of receiving a postcard in the age of social media.
‘We’re travelling more and we’re also more connected than ever before.
‘We’re also taking more holidays, which is another factor in the postcard’s decline.
An iconic view of Valletta’s Triton Fountain and the old Bus Terminus
She added: ‘It’s easier to tweet a picture, update our Facebook status or send a text to make people back home envious, rather than waiting a few weeks for a ‘wish you were here’ postcard.
‘Changes in health, wealth, technology, convenience and travel have all had a major impact on consumer habits over the past 50 years.’