Maldives posts 2.2 percent hike in tourist arrivals in August

Maldives on Tuesday reported an increase of 2.2 percent in tourist arrivals in August.

Official figures for the month of August released by the tourism ministry show that a total of 123,992 tourists visited the Maldives during the month — a 2.2 percent increase over the 121,310 tourists in August 2017.

Europe, the largest regional source market, posted an overall growth of 10.6 percent over August 2017, as arrivals increased to 52,488 from 47,465.

The UK, which is the single biggest European source market, made a gain of eight percent, while several other major European markets such as Italy, France and Spain also posted gains of 21.4 percent, 0.7 percent and 33.3 percent respectively. However, arrivals from Germany declined by 7.7 percent — the second decline this year (down 23.3 percent in June) from the second largest European source market.

Russian travellers continued to show their appetite for the Maldives, as arrival numbers jumped 8.6 percent in August to reach 4,525 from 4,166 in August 2017. This strong performance last month translated into an impressive growth of 21.5 percent in arrivals from Russia in the past eight months of the year.

Arrivals from Asia, the second largest regional source market, decreased by 3.5 in August.

However, the double digit decline in the Chinese market for the past two years slowed down in August as arrivals decreased by only 0.8 percent to reach 33,472 from 33,743 in August 2017. This performance narrowed the decline in arrivals from the Maldives’ single biggest source market for the January-August period to 7.4 percent.

Almost all major contributors to Maldives tourism from South East Asia, which has been post strong gains over the past year, recorded declines in August, with arrivals from countries such as Malaysia, Thailand and Philippines decreasing by 13.7 percent, 8.7 percent and 12 percent respectively. However, arrivals from Singapore, which had been posting weak performances for the past eights months of year, increased by 17.6 percent — the second consecutive month of positive growth.

South Asia, which has become one of the fastest growing source markets, also extended its decline for the second consecutive month after posting major gains for the past seven months of the year. The latest decline of 27.5 percent is due to negative growth in arrivals from almost all South Asian markets, including India (down 28.6 percent) and Sri Lanka (down 29 percent).

Along with the mixed performance in established markets, growth in relatively new markets such as the Americas also turned negative for the first time in several months.

Arrivals from the US decreased by 2.4 percent in August — the first decline since securing a place amongst the top 10 contributors to the Maldives tourism industry last year. However, the number of visitors from Australia and South Africa, which has been on the recovery, increased by 40.4 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively.

Middle East, which has proven to be a volatile market, posted a decline of 1.7 percent in August after recording slight gains for the past two months, as arrivals from several major Middle Eastern countries, including Kuwait, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates posted negative growth of 4.7 percent, 20.7 percent and 23.6 percent, respectively. However, Saudi Arabia (up 6.6 percent) and Qatar (up 305.9 percent) were the only major contributors from Middle East that made gains in arrivals in August.

According to the August statistics, total arrivals for the past eight months of the year increased by 9.1 percent to reach 972,839 compared to the 892,025 in the same period of last year.

Maldives had early this month welcomed the one millionth visitor of 2018.

In addition to a new wave of recent political turmoil, the Maldives is currently experiencing the traditionally low season.

May to November is considered the low tourist season, as these months constitute rainy season in Maldives. Between May and November, the islands boast of wet weather, making it less ideal for tourists to travel and enjoy the tropical environment.

Over the past five years, dozens of uninhabited islands have been leased to local and foreign resort developers. Several international brands have entered into the market, increasing the number of resorts to 120. That number is set to increase as the government has announced the opening of some 20 new resorts over the next two years.

Along with the new resort openings come the challenge of increasing demand from budget travellers who choose guesthouses over luxury resorts that the Maldives is known for. The guesthouse sector has rapidly expanded with over 450 guesthouses in operation today.

The government last year 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.

Photo: Palm Beach Island Maldives Resort & Spa

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