A week after the conflict in Libya erupted, Google reported there had been 380 million hits on Malta's official tourism website.
People who had barely heard of the small Mediterranean island as a tourist destination punched in search requests to find out more about the ancient gateway to mainland Europe.
"The developments in Libya have definitely put Malta on the map," says Josef Formosa Gauci, the chief executive of the Malta Tourism Authority, which hopes to attract more Gulf visitors this year. "A lot of people who had probably never heard of Malta, today do know about Malta."
But the impact of the civil war in Libya, which started in February, on the island's tourism industry has been mixed.
Many potential tourists see Malta, situated about 350km north of Tripoli, the capital of trouble-torn Libya, as a no-go area, while others have had their eyes opened to Malta's delights.
For the tiny island, this is good news because the tourism industry accounts for up to 25 per cent of the country's €6.1 billion (Dh32.72bn) economy and employs 30 per cent of the population.
"In the medium to long term it is something we will benefit from," says Mr Gauci. "In the short term it is something that has raised certain concerns. Certain conferences have been cancelled, some inquiries have become much slower than they were before."
But there has been an increase in the number of cruise-liner passengers as operators scrapped Tunisia from their itinerary after prolonged protests there this year.
"I actually benefited," says Vince DeBono, an independent tour guide. "But I know hotels who had cancellations purely because of the proximity they thought to a danger zone."
Last year, Malta received a record 1.33 million tourists, up 12.5 per cent on 2009. Spending also increased to €1.1bn, another all-time high.
"Clearly Malta's tourism industry is doing very well, even within the crisis itself," says Tonio Fenech, the minister of finance, economy and investment.
In a move to attract even more holidaymakers, the tourism authority has turned its attention to the Gulf region, and in October 2009 set up offices in Dubai.
The plan is that tourists from the GCC will compensate for lost business from Europe caused by the unrest in Libya.
Malta has for years relied on a steady flow of holidaymakers from the UK as well Germany, Italy, Sweden and France.
But now the island is trying to get away from its "sun-and-sea" package holiday destination by focusing on its rich cultural and historical past to tempt tourists.
Several foreign powers have run Malta during its 7,000-year history. It was under Arab administration from 870 to 1090 after the Normans were overthrown. Although no monuments from that era remain, there is evidence of the Arab influence in the names of many of the island's towns and villages, such as Mdina, as well as in the Maltese language.
There are also the Mnajdra and Hagar Qim temples that date back thousands of years. They are reputed to be the oldest free-standing stone buildings in the world. Medieval architecture and churches can be found throughout the island.
In another move to boost tourism figures from the Gulf and Asia, the authorities have also provided funds for village festivals, which are steeped in tradition.
"If we want to see further growth we need to start looking further than just the core market," says Mr Gauci. "We started further developing the Russian market, the Gulf and Japan."
The numbers of tourists from these areas so far are relatively small, with less than 20,000 from the Middle East last year. Most those are from Dubai after Emirates Airline increased its flights to a daily service two years ago.
"We saw an increase when they started daily flights, and we also have been seeing an increase month-on-month for the past 18 months after we started our efforts in Dubai," says Mr Gauci.
But travel agents in the region say Malta is still a hard sell for Gulf tourists because of expensive airfares.
"In the price of the ticket alone you could probably do one full trip to the Far East," says Sheldon Emmanuel at Al Tayer Holidays in Dubai. "For the cruise line it's good. If you're just going there and it happens to be a stop, excellent."
For many in the island's tourism industry, an influx of guests with money to spend cannot come soon enough.
"These people don't want to spend money," sighs a horse-drawn carriage driver in Valletta, Malta's capital and a World Heritage site, as groups of European cruise-line passengers pass by.
Worried about the impact Libya will have on the industry, he adds, "[Muammar] Qadaffi is just over there", pointing across the sea to the horizon.
Others, though, are more upbeat. "I think Malta can offer a lot,"says Mr Fenech.