Maldives posts strong gains in tourist arrivals amidst summer low

Maldives has posted strong gains in tourist arrivals in June, as properties across the archipelago cope with the traditionally low summer season.

Official figures for the month of June released by the tourism ministry show that a total of 85,222 tourists visited the Maldives during the month — a 7.8 percent increase over the 79,034 tourists in June 2016.

Travel trends and demographics remain largely unchanged, as the European market continued its recovery while the Chinese market posted another major decline.

Europe, the largest regional source market which has been recovering after a period of falling growth, posted an overall growth of 13.8 percent over June 2016 as arrivals increased to 29,194 from 25,661. Important European markets such as the UK (up 3.2 percent), Germany (up 49.1 percent) and Italy (up 7.2 percent) performed well last month, while recovery in the Russian market was again evident as Russian visitors to the Maldives increased by 11 percent in June to reach 3,262 compared to the 2,939 in June 2016.

However, Asia, which has recently become a major emerging source market, observed a slight drop in total arrivals, as the number decreased by 0.9 percent. This decline is largely due to recent declines in the Chinese market, which continued its downward spiral last month as well with a drop of 12.5 percent. Taking into account the latest decline, arrivals from China have decreased 10.3 percent in the first half of this year compared to the same period of last year.

However, South and Southeast Asia continued their positive growth trend in June as well, as India, the Maldives’ closest neighbour, observed a growth of 8.1 percent, while South East Asian countries such as Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand also posted significant gains; 33 percent, 19.2 percent and 4.5 percent respectively.

Relatively new markets such as Australia and the Americas also recorded significant growth in arrivals — 10.4 percent and 25.3 percent respectively — with arrivals from the US increasing by 26.8 percent, 24.9 percent from Canada and 9.7 percent from Brazil.

After months of negative growth, Middle East, which has become an emerging source market for the Maldives, also showed signs of recovery in June, as arrivals from the region increased by 3.1 percent. This positive growth was mainly because of a 161.3 percent rise in arrivals from Saudi Arabia and a 777.1 percent increase in the number of tourists that visited the Maldives from the United Arab Emirates.

According to the June statistics, total arrivals for the first half of the year increased by 6.1 percent to reach 657,540 compared to the 619,921 in the same period of last year.

After years of double-digit growth in tourism, the Maldives has over the recent years observed a slowdown in growth. Tourist arrivals have crossed the one million milestone and is on course to reach 1.5 million by the end of this year, but the country has been struggling to create demand amidst a significant increase in bed capacity.

However, the latest figures are a welcome sign for the Maldives tourism industry, which is the main economic activity in the island nation, as summer period has traditionally been considered the low season. To attract more travellers from May to September, resorts in the Maldives have announced special offers with hefty discounts and a host of other benefits.

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