Maldives records drop in tourist arrivals in March

Maldives has posted a slight drop in tourist arrivals in March suggesting a further slowdown in growth in tourism in the world-famous holiday destination.

Official figures for the month of March released by the tourism ministry on Sunday shows that 112,665 tourists visited the Maldives in March, a 2.1 percent drop from the 115,131 tourists in March 2016.

Almost every major source market has seen a decline, as China, the single biggest contributor, continued its downward spiral with a 9.5 percent drop to reach 18,203 in March.

Europe, the largest regional source market which has been recovering for the past couple of months after a year of falling growth, also posted a drop of three percent with important European markets such as the United Kingdom declining by nine percent. Recovery in the Russian market was, however, evident as Russian visitors to the Maldives increased by 43.8 percent in March to reach 6,413 compared to the 4,461 in March 2016.

Middle East, one of the most important emerging source markets, also observed a decline of 8.3 percent in March with arrivals from Saudi Arabia dropping by 31 percent.

South Asia, which has become a major emerging source market, however, continued its growth with arrivals from countries in the region increasing by one percent. However, India, Maldives’ closest neighbour, was the only South Asian country that posted a significant growth — 15.4 percent — in tourist arrivals in March.

Despite the drop in March, total arrivals for the first three months of the year increased by 4.3 percent to reach 359,053 compared to the 344,166 in the same period of last year. However, growth in tourist arrivals was almost negligible for the month of February as well.

Maldives recorded a total of 1.4 million tourist arrivals last year, and has set an ambitious target to cross the 1.5 million mark this year.

The slowdown in growth in tourism in the Maldives is in stark contrast with global trends.

A recent study published by the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) showed increasing demand for international tourism across the world and spending by outbound rise. With a 12 percent increase in spending and a six percent increase in the number of outbound travellers, China continued to lead international outbound tourism last year, followed by the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom and France as top five spenders.

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