Alibaba’s Alitrip appoints Maldives agents

Alibaba Group’s travel business Alitrip has for the first time appointed agents in Maldives.

At a ceremony held at Hotel Jen in capital Male Thursday afternoon, JA Manafaru, Hideaway Beach Resort and Spa, Lily Beach Resort and Spa, and Adaaran Resorts Maldives signed up as Alitrip’s partner resorts in the Maldives. Local travel agents Villa Travels and Splendid Asia were also named as agents.

Speaking at the ceremony, Frank Huang, General Manager of Hotel Business at Alitrip, said that the new partnerships would benefit the Maldives tourism industry, as more Chinese travellers would now have access to deals offered by its agents.

Island Aviation Services Limited (IAS), which operates the Maldives flagship carrier Maldivian, facilitated the partnerships.

IAS Managing Director Abdul Haris said that this initiative would help boost arrivals from China.

Maldivian operates scheduled flights to several Chinese cities, including Changsha, Chengdu, Chongqing, Nanjing, Wuhan, Xian and Hangzhou, and is in the process of starting direct flights to Beijing. Privately-owned Mega Maldives also served as the primary airline between the Maldives and several major cities in China, including Beijing, before suspending its operations in May.

Several Chinese airlines, including China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, Capital Airlines and Air China, operate charter services to the Maldives.

Meanwhile, Chinese low-cost carrier Lucky Air is set to begin flight operations to the Maldives in January.

Alitrip, formerly Taobao Travel, was established as an independent, one-stop online travel platform in October 2014. Part of the Alibaba ecosystem, which is the largest e-commerce platform in China, Alitrip serves over 50 million travellers in a year.

Maldives ranks amongst the most favoured holiday destinations for Chinese travellers, but the Chinese market has posted major declines over the past year. Arrivals from China, which still remains the single biggest source market, has dropped 10.3 percent in the first half of this year to reach 141,495 from 157,764 in the same period of last year.

The government has recently announced new steps to maintain a structured growth in tourism, including a slowdown in leasing islands for resort development and increased marketing efforts in key markets such as China and the Middle East in order to reach an ambitious target of a record 1.5 million tourist arrivals this year.

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