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Maldives posts double digit growth in tourist arrivals amidst political crisis

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Maldives on Thursday posted a double digit growth in tourist arrivals in February despite a series of travel advisories from almost every major source market amidst heightened political instability.

Maldives has attracted a wave of bad publicity following the recent declaration and extension of a state of emergency. However, the political turmoil is strictly restricted to the capital city, away from the resorts and local islands where holidaymakers stay in.

However, official figures for the month of February released by the tourism ministry show that a total of 144,286 tourists visited the Maldives during the month — a 19.6 percent increase over the 121,052 tourists in February 2017.

Europe, the largest regional source market, posted an overall growth of 17.7 percent over February 2017, as arrivals increased to 79,710 from 67,730. Almost all the important European markets such as the UK (up 9.3 percent), Germany (up 10.3 percent), France (up 18.8 percent) and Italy (up 24.5 percent) made strong gains last month.

Asia followed the same growth trajectory, with a major uptick in numbers from the Chinese market despite a highly unusual travel advisory by the Chinese government.

Arrivals from China increased by 38.1 percent to reach 33,506 last month compared to the 24,263 in February 2017. This growth comes after a decline of 15.8 percent in January — a disappointing performance by the Maldives’ single biggest source market, which during the last two months of 2017 posted a stellar performance after major declines over the past two years.

Major contributors to Maldives tourism from South East Asia posted strong performances in February, with arrivals from countries such as Malaysia and Thailand increasing by 40.6 percent and 118.7 percent respectively. Arrivals from Singapore, however, declined by 40.8 percent.

However, arrivals from South Asia, which has become one of the fastest growing source markets, declined by 6.5 percent in February. Visitors from India, which is the most important market in the region, decreased by 1.1 percent — the first decline in almost a year — in light of repeated travel advisories.

Meanwhile, relatively new markets continued their upward growth trajectory last month as well, as arrivals from the Americas were up 26.4 percent, Oceania up 22 percent and Africa up 4.7 percent.

Arrivals from the US, which has recently secured a place amongst the top 10 contributors to the Maldives tourism industry, increased by 18.3 percent to reach 3,391 last month compared to the 2,867 in February 2017, while the number of visitors from Australia also increased by 23 percent. However, South Africa, which was once a major source market for the Maldives, posted a decline of seven percent after an extended period of recovery.

Middle East, which has proven to be a volatile market, posted another disappointing 19.4 percent decline in arrivals in February. This major decline, after a rare uptick in January, is largely due to fall in numbers from major Middle Eastern markets such as Saudi Arabia (down 31.1 percent), United Arab Emirates (down 25.1 percent) and Qatar (down 59.9 percent).

According to the February statistics, total arrivals for the first two months of the year increased by 16.3 percent to reach 286,637 compared to the 246,388 in the same period of last year.

Over the past five years, dozens of uninhabited islands have been leased to local and foreign resort developers. Several international brands have entered into the market, increasing the number of resorts to 120. That number is set to increase as the government has announced the opening of some 20 new resorts over the next two years.

Along with the new resort openings come the challenge of increasing demand from budget travellers who choose guesthouses over luxury resorts that the Maldives is known for. The guesthouse sector has rapidly expanded with over 450 guesthouses in operation today.

The government has recently announced new steps to maintain a structured growth in tourism, including a slowdown in leasing islands for resort development and increased marketing efforts in key markets such as China and the Middle East in order to reach an ambitious target of a record 1.5 million tourist arrivals this year.

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Maldives celebrates arrival of 2024’s 1 millionth tourist

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Maldives on Thursday welcomed the one millionth tourist to visit this year.

The one millionth tourist is a Thai named Sutapa Amonwivat, who arrived from Singapore with her husband and two children. This is her second visit to Maldives.

Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) and the Ministry of Tourism gave a warm welcome to Sutapa at the Velana International Airport (VIA) Thursday afternoon. She was welcomed at the VIA by tourism minister Ibrahim Faisal, MMPRC Managing Director Ibrahim Shiury and senior officials of various relevant agencies.

After welcoming her with traditional offerings, she was presented with various gifts by the ministry, MMPRC, customs, immigration, Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO) and Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA).

Maldives reached one million tourists in June, three weeks earlier than last year. The number of tourists reached one million on July 16, 2023.

Maldives expects to reach 2 million tourists this year.

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New air route connects Chongqing to Maldives

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Chongqing Airlines on Monday began its inaugural flights to Maldives.

The Chongqing-Male route, scheduled three times a week, is expected to strengthen the bonds between China and the Maldives, opening up exciting new opportunities for tourism and cultural exchange.

The inaugural flight was welcomed upon its arrival at Velana International Airport (VIA) in Maldives, where local officials and tourism representatives expressed their enthusiasm for this new development.

“We warmly welcome our friends from China to our beautiful islands. This new connection strengthens our bonds and opens up new opportunities for tourism,” the tourism ministry said on X.

Maldives currently welcomes four airlines from China, including China Eastern, Beijing Capital Airlines, Xiamen Airlines.

In January, Maldives government urged tourism stakeholders in both Maldives and China to ramp up efforts to restore China’s position as the primary source market for Maldives tourism, a status held before the onset of Covid-19.

China, being the largest source market for Maldives tourism before the pandemic, saw a resumption of tourist arrivals from January 2023 after a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic. In 2023, the Maldives welcomed 187,118 Chinese tourists, marking a significant recovery in numbers. This year, the Maldives has welcomed the most number of tourists from China, with over 107,940 or 11.5 percent of total arrivals by June 12. 

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CROSSROADS Maldives Introduces Weixin Pay at resorts for seamless guest experience

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CROSSROADS Maldives has introduced WeChat Pay, widely known as Weixin Pay in China, across its world-class resorts, SAii Lagoon Maldives, Curio Collection by Hilton, and Hard Rock Hotel Maldives. This payment option is made available to enhance the convenience and overall experience for guests from China, making their stay in the Maldives more enjoyable and hassle-free.

Understanding the needs of the diverse guests, CROSSROADS Maldives has integrated WeChat Pay into operations, allowing guests from China to easily and securely conduct transactions using a payment method familiar to them. The introduction of WeChat Pay is a testament to CROSSROADS Maldives’ dedication to enhancing guest satisfaction by offering exceptional experiences at every turn. What is also expected through this initiative is that the guests could benefit from better foreign exchange rates, translating to better savings on their expenditures during their stay.

The option is available for guests in-house conveniently at both resorts as well as across the Marina at CROSSROADS Maldives where a wider variety of unparalleled dining and retail experiences are available for all guests. The day visitors from China will also therefore equally benefit from this new introduction at the Maldives’ premier multi-island integrated leisure destination.

SAii Lagoon Maldives, Curio Collection by Hilton, is a vibrant tropical escape that offers unique and locally inspired experiences. The resort features spacious rooms and villas, a variety of dining options, and an array of recreational activities designed to cater to the desires of modern travellers. Guests can escape to the island’s SAiisational natural beauty, enjoy water sports, and indulge in spa treatments, all while relishing the personalised service that defines Hilton’s Curio Collection.

Hard Rock Hotel Maldives brings the iconic Hard Rock spirit to the tranquil shores of the Maldives. This family-friendly resort offers a perfect blend of relaxation and entertainment, featuring music-inspired experiences, live performances, and the brand’s signature amenities. With luxurious accommodations, diverse dining options, and a plethora of activities for all ages, Hard Rock Hotel Maldives ensures an unforgettable holiday experience for every guest.

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