Maldives posts four percent hike in tourist arrivals in September

Maldives has posted a four percent increase in tourist arrivals in September, as the world famous holiday destination inches closer to welcoming 1.5 million tourists by year end.

Official figures for the month of September released by the tourism ministry show that a total of 105,984 tourists visited the Maldives during the month — a four percent increase over the 101,909 tourists in September 2016.

Travel trends and demographics remain largely unchanged, as traditional source markets such as Europe and Russia continued their 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 8.3 percent over September 2016, as arrivals increased to 40,0145 from 36,958. Important European markets such as Germany (up 12.4 percent), Italy (up 12.8 percent) and Spain (up 21.1 percent) performed well last month, despite another 3.8 percent fall in numbers from the UK, one of the top contributors to the Maldives tourism industry.

The UK market observed an year-on-year decline of 3.2 percent in August as well. With the latest decline, arrivals from UK, the third major source market, have dropped by 0.8 percent in the January-September period to reach 75,506 from 76,083 in the same period of last year.

Asia, which has become a major emerging source market, continued its recovery, as South Asia and South East Asia performed exceptionally well in September as well.

Although arrivals from Sri Lanka declined by 16.7 percent, the number of tourists from India, the Maldives’ closest neighbour, observed a growth of 35.5 percent.

A 106.1 percent increase in arrivals from Thailand contributed to an overall growth of 22.8 percent in the South East Asian region, despite falling numbers from Malaysia (down five percent), Philippines (down 19.4 percent) and Singapore (down 16.8 percent).

China, which still remains the single biggest source market, continued its downward spiral in September as well with a 6.9 percent drop. Taking into account the latest decline, arrivals from China have decreased 8.8 percent in the first nine months of this year compared to the same period of last year.

However, the decline in the Chinese market was largely offset by strong gains in traditional North East Asian markets such as Japan (up 2.6 percent) and Korea (36.3 percent).

Continuing a relatively new trend, the biggest gains in September were posted by emerging markets such as the Americas (up nine percent), Oceania (up 18.6 percent) and Africa (up 7.7 percent).

Arrivals from the US, which has recently secured a place amongst the top 10 contributors to the Maldives tourism industry, increased by 2.8 percent, while the number of visitors from Australia increased by 19.7 percent.

The volatility in the Middle Eastern market was once again evident in September as visitor numbers decreased by 20.2 percent. This major decline is mostly due to weak performance by almost every major Middle Eastern market such as Saudi Arabia (down 8.7 percent), United Arab Emirates (down 19.6 percent), Kuwait (down 42.9 percent) and Egypt (down 30.3 percent).

According to the September statistics, total arrivals for the first nine months of the year increased by 5.7 percent to reach 998,009 compared to the 944,544 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 the nation prepares for the peak tourist season.

Several international airlines are increasing flight frequency to the island nation to cater to the increasing demand.

December to April is considered the peak tourist season, as these months constitute summers in Maldives. Between December and April, the islands boast of dry weather, making it ideal for tourists to travel and enjoy the tropical environment.

Resorts across the archipelago organise special activities for the festive season, which falls during the peak tourist season. Popular resorts such as Baros MaldivesAmilla Fushi and Finolhu MaldivesSoneva FushiThe St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort and Mirihi Island Resort have already announced their festive programmes for this year.

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