Maldives posts 2.5 percent hike in tourist arrivals in July

Maldives has posted a 2.5 percent increase in tourist arrivals in July.

Official figures for the month of July released by the tourism ministry show that a total of 113,175 visited the Maldives during the month — a 2.5 percent increase over the 110,432 tourists in July 2016.

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

Europe, the largest regional source market which has been recovering after a period of falling growth, posted an overall growth of 11.4 percent over July 2016, as arrivals increased to 42,192 from 37,859. Important European markets such as Germany (up 13.7 percent) and Italy (up 13.5 percent) performed well last month, despite a 2.4 percent fall in numbers from the UK, one of the top contributors to the Maldives tourism industry.

Recovery in the Russian market was again evident, as Russian visitors to the Maldives increased by 21.3 percent in June to reach 4,144 compared to the 3,415 in June 2016.

Asia, which has become a major emerging source market, observed a drop in total arrivals, as the number decreased by 4.6 percent. This decline is largely due to recent declines in the Chinese market, which continued its downward spiral in July as well with a drop of 6.2 percent. Taking into account the latest decline, arrivals from China have decreased 6.2 percent in the first seven months of this year compared to the same period of last year.

A 10.1 percent drop in arrivals from South Asia in July also added to the woes of the Asian market. Although India, the Maldives’ closest neighbour, observed a growth of 12.6 percent, tourist numbers from Sri Lanka and Pakistan dropped by 32.2 percent and 12.8 percent respectively.

This decline, however, did not extend to South East Asia, which observed a 3.3 percent increase in July. South East Asian countries such as Malaysia and Thailand posted gains of 3.6 percent and 14.7 percent respectively.

The biggest gains were posted by relatively new markets such as the Americas (up 28.4 percent), Oceania (up 24.7 percent) and Africa (up 67.8 percent). Arrivals from the US, which has recently secured a place amongst the top 10 contributors to the Maldives tourism industry, increased by 25.5 percent, while the number of visitors from Australia increased by 23.5 percent. South Africa, which was once a major source market for the Maldives, also showed signs of recovery, as arrivals from the country increased by 74.4 percent in July.

Middle East, which has become an emerging source market for the Maldives, observed another major decline in July, as visitor numbers dropped by nine percent. Almost all major Middle Eastern markets posted declines, including Saudi Arabia (down 1.6 percent), Qatar (down 93.7 percent) and Egypt (down 23.9 percent). United Arab Emirates (UAE), however, continued its growth with a 32.9 percent increase.

According to the July statistics, total arrivals for the first seven months of the year increased by 5.5 percent to reach 770,715 compared to the 730,353 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.

Photo: Business Insider

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