Maldives to step up marketing to attract one million Chinese tourists per year

Maldives has announced plans to launch an aggressive marketing campaign in China in a bid to attract at least one million Chinese tourists per year.

Tourism minister Moosa Zameer told Chinese state run Xinhua news agency that the Maldives would launch a more aggressive tourism promotion campaign across many cities in China. The government was also planning to send a team of aviation officials to China to discuss increasing the number of flights between the two countries, he added.

“China has been a very important market for the Maldives, although we have had some ups and downs in tourism arrivals. But overall we are gaining ground, and we have planned a lot of new activities for the Chinese market,” Zameer said.

Tourism minister Moosa Zameer (L) is pictured with the Chinese ambassador to the Maldives Wang Fukang (C). PHOTO/ MIHAARU

The new initiatives, he stressed, are aimed at increasing the number of Chinese tourists to one million per year from the existing 400,000.

China has maintained its position as the single biggest source market despite falling numbers over the past year. In 2016, the Maldives welcomed 324,326 visitors from China, which was a 9.8 percent drop compared to the previous year. China has continued its downward spiral this year as well with a 9.5 percent drop in Chinese arrivals in March.

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.

In his recent interview with Xinhua, the minister also hailed the Belt and Road Initiative of China saying that it had further strengthened the close cooperation between China and the Maldives, with more Chinese investors and tourists coming into the island nation.

Proposed by China in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative (also known as the One Belt One Road initiative) refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, aiming at building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient trade routes of Silk Road.

Zameer said congestion at the country’s main international airport was a major obstacle to expand the tourism industry. However, due to loans and infrastructural assistance from China, construction of a new runway is now underway at the Velana International Airport which will be completed by mid-2018, he added.

The Maldives aims to cater to at least seven million passengers per annum with its new runway, which is being built by Beijing Urban Construction Group (BUCG) of China.

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