Maldives posts eight percent hike in tourist arrivals in August

Maldives has posted an eight percent increase in tourist arrivals in August.

Official figures for the month of August released by the tourism ministry show that a total of 121,310 visited the Maldives during the month — an eight percent increase over the 112,282 tourists in August 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 10.1 percent over August 2016, as arrivals increased to 47,465 from 43,109. Important European markets such as Germany (up 0.7 percent), Italy (up 11.1 percent) and France (up 16.1 percent) performed well last month, despite a 3.2 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 37.3 percent in August to reach 4,166 compared to the 3,034 in August 2016.

Asia, which has become a major emerging source market, observed a recovery after falling in July, as South Asia and South East Asia performed exceptionally well last month.

Although arrivals from Sri Lanka declined by 17.9 percent, the number of tourists from India, the Maldives’ closest neighbour, observed a growth of 44.3 percent. South East Asia also observed a 45.9 percent increase in August, as countries such as Malaysia, Thailand and Philippines posted gains of 61.2 percent, 114.6 percent and 16.3 percent respectively.

China, which still remains the single biggest source market, continued its downward spiral in August as well with a 6.8 percent drop. Taking into account the latest decline, arrivals from China have decreased 9.1 percent in the first eight months of this year compared to the same period of last year.

Continuing a relatively new trend, the biggest gains in August were posted by relatively new markets such as the Americas (up 31.4 percent), Oceania (up 11.7 percent) and Africa (up 23.2 percent). Arrivals from the US, which has recently secured a place amongst the top 10 contributors to the Maldives tourism industry, increased by 27.9 percent, while the number of visitors from Australia increased by 10.2 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 28.7 percent in August.

After months of declines, Middle East, which has become an emerging source market for the Maldives, showed signs of recovery in August, as visitor numbers increased by 15.5 percent. This positive result is mostly due to strong performance by major Middle Eastern markets such as Saudi Arabia (up 3.9percent), United Arab Emirates (up 113.3 percent), Kuwait (up 39.9 percent) and Egypt (up 17.3 percent).

According to the August statistics, total arrivals for the first eight months of the year increased by 5.9 percent to reach 892,025 compared to the 842,635 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: Kurumba Maldives

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