Maldives 2017 tourist arrivals hit one million

Tourist arrivals to the Maldives over the year have crossed the one million mark, as the beach holiday destination posted a major increase in arrival numbers last month.

Official figures for the month of October released by the tourism ministry show that a total of 127,986 tourists visited the Maldives during the month — an 8.9 percent increase over the 117,489 tourists in October 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 12 percent over October 2016, as arrivals increased to 62,018 from 55,368. Almost all the important European markets such as the UK (up 0.2 percent), Germany (up 14.9 percent), Italy (up 18.8 percent) and Spain (up 16.7 percent) performed well last month.

Asia, which has become a major emerging source market, continued its recovery, as South Asia and South East Asia posted strong performances in October.

Although arrivals from Sri Lanka declined by 20.3 percent, the number of tourists from India, the Maldives’ closest neighbour, observed a growth of 17.7 percent. With the latest increase, arrivals from India have increased by 25.4 percent during the past 10 months of the year to reach 63,141 from 50,369 in the same period last year.

Despite major declines in many Southeast Asian markets in September, major contributors from the region posted strong gains in October, with arrivals from countries such as Malaysia, Thailand and Philippines increasing by 27.6 percent, 88 percent and 4.1 percent respectively.

However, China, which still remains the single biggest source market, continued its downward spiral in October as well with a 2.6 percent drop. Taking into account the latest decline, arrivals from China have decreased 8.2 percent in the past 10 months of this year compared to the same period of last year.

Relatively new markets posted significant gains last month as well, as arrivals from the Americas were up 14.1 percent, Oceania up 29.2 percent and Africa up 33.7 percent.

Arrivals from the US, which has recently secured a place amongst the top 10 contributors to the Maldives tourism industry, increased by 12 percent to reach 3,043 last month compared to the 2,716 in October 2016, while the number of visitors from Australia also increased by 24.4 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 34.8 percent in October.

The volatility in the Middle Eastern market was once again evident in October as visitor numbers decreased by 4.7 percent. This major decline is due to weak performance by many major Middle Eastern markets, including Saudi Arabia (down 5.6 percent), Qatar (down 55.1 percent) and Egypt (down 14.2 percent). However, United Arab Emirates and Kuwait posted gains of 36.7 percent and six percent respectively.

According to the October statistics, total arrivals for the past 10 months of the year increased by six percent to reach 1,125,995 compared to the 1,062,033 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. The government has set an ambitious target of attracting 1.5 million tourists 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 ResortMirihi Island Resort, Niyama Private Islands Maldives, Kandima Maldives, Jumeirah Vittaveli, Lily Beach Resort and Spa, and Kurumba Maldives have announced their festive programmes for this year.

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