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Maldives posts 10.9 per cent growth in tourist arrivals in May

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Maldives posted an impressive growth of 10.9 per cent in tourists arrivals in May, as the Indian Ocean holiday destination welcomed more than 100,000 tourists during the first month of the traditionally low tourist season.

Official figures for the month of May released by the tourism ministry show that a total of 103,022 tourists visited the Maldives during the month — a 10.9 per cent increase over the 92,913 tourists in May 2018.

The strong performance is mostly due to a significant rise in tourist arrivals from Asia Pacific, which recorded a 27.2 per cent growth.

Chinese market, which has rebounded after two years of major declines, recorded a 24.1 per cent growth, as arrivals reached 21,010 in May from 16,927 a year ago. This strong performance widened the increase in arrivals from the Maldives’ single biggest source market for the January-May period to 11 per cent.

Growth in South Asia, which has become one of the fastest growing source markets, also accelerated by an impressive 97.1 per cent in May, thanks to a 99.6 per cent increase in arrivals from India. A total of 17,389 tourists visited the Maldives in May from its closest neighbour compared to the 8,711 a year ago.

However, several major contributors to Maldives tourism from South East Asia, which have been posting strong gains over the past year, posted declines in May, with arrivals from countries such as Malaysia, Philippines and Singapore decreasing by 24.6 per cent, 40.4 per cent and 8.5 per cent, respectively. Arrivals from Thailand, however, increased by 4.9 per cent.

Relatively new markets such as the Americas maintained their strong performance in May.

Arrivals from the US, which has secured a place amongst the top 10 contributors to Maldives tourism, increased by 20 per cent to reach 3,389 last month compared to the 2,825 in May 2018, whilst the number of visitors from Australia also increased by 20.6 per cent.

Despite the stellar performance in May, there are worrying signs.

The largest regional source market of Europe posted a rare decline of 3.8 per cent in May, as arrivals decreased to 38,519 from 40,056 a year ago. This was due to major declines in important European source markets such as Germany (down 29.3 per cent), France (down 21.4 per cent) and Switzerland (down 17.8 per cent). The UK, which is the single biggest European source market, Italy and Spain are the only major European markets that recorded positive growth — 14.2 per cent, 5.7 per cent and 2.8 per cent, respectively — in May.

Middle East, which has proven to be a volatile market, also posted a major decline of 64.2 per cent in May. Arrivals from almost all major Middle Eastern countries, including Saudi Arabia (down 60.4 per cent), Kuwait (down 71.8 per cent), Egypt (37.6 per cent), Qatar (down 82.3 per cent) and the United Arab Emirates (down 82.3 per cent) posted negative growth.

According to the May statistics, total arrivals for the first five months of the year increased by 18.4 per cent to reach 749,114 compared to the 632,729 in the same period last year.

Tourist demographics remained largely unchanged in the first five months of the year, as Europe dominated with a marketshare of 53 per cent of the total tourist arrivals, followed by Asia Pacific with 38 per cent marketshare. Americas secured the third position with five per cent marketshare, whilst Middle East slid to the fourth with three per cent marketshare. African countries also contributed one per cent to the total tourist arrivals to the Maldives.

All the top 10 source markets posted positive growth in arrivals by the end of May.

China (marketshare of 15.5 percent) and Italy (marketshare of 9.5 per cent) maintained their position as the two biggest contributors to Maldives tourism, with arrivals from China increasing by 11.2 per cent to reach 116,282 and arrivals from Italy increasing by 34.2 per cent to reach 71,334 during the January-May period.

India overtook Germany and the UK, which slid to fourth and fifth position with a marketshare of 8.3 per cent and 7.7 per cent respectively, to claim the third spot, as the Maldives’ closest neighbour increased its marketshare to 8.8 per cent with a 96.4 per cent growth in tourist arrivals during the first five months of the year. Arrivals from Germany and the UK, however, grew by 18.8 per cent and 12.9 per cent, respectively.

France, which saw its marketshare fall to 4.8 per cent, slid to the seventh position, as Russia claimed the sixth position with a marketshare of 5.1 per cent. Arrivals from Russia increased by 9.8 per cent to reach 38,156 by the end of May, whilst the number of French tourists visiting the Maldives in the same period grew by 22.7 per cent to reach 35,944.

The US and Japan maintained their respective rankings as the eighth and ninth biggest contributor to Maldives tourism. Arrivals from the US market increased by 38.4 per cent to reach 24,151 in the first five months of the year, whilst the number of Japanese tourists visiting the Maldives in the same period increased by 19.3 per cent to reach 19,756.

Meanwhile, Sweden was pushed out of the top 10 source markets, as Switzerland claimed the 10th position with a marketshare of 2.3 per cent. Arrivals from Switzerland grew by 2.1 per cent in the January-May period to reach 17,500.

Maldives welcomed a record 1.4 million tourists in 2018. It was a 6.8 per cent increase from the 1,389,542 tourists that chose to holiday in the Maldives in 2017.

Meanwhile, government has revised its forecast for the number of tourists visiting the island nation this year, increasing the estimate to a record 1.6 million from 1.5 million.

This positive growth in the tourism industry comes amidst concerns by private organisations representing industry stakeholders such as the Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO) over the lack of effort and budget to promote the Maldives as a destination.

These concerns come as the world-famous holiday destination struggles to match an increased bed capacity.

Over the past few 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 more than 130. That number is set to increase as another 20 resorts are expected to open 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 500 guesthouses in operation today.

The previous government announced 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.

Meanwhile, the new government has pledged to ramp up tourism promotion.

Reflecting the new government’s pledge, the state budget for 2019 includes MVR 104,200,000 (USD 6.7 million) for tourism promotion, up from MVR 34,733,333 (USD 2.2 million) this year and the previous year.

Photo: Kihaa Maldives

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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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Pulse Hotels & Resorts unveils new residential project: The Coral Residences, Kandima

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Pulse Hotels & Resorts, one of the leading innovators in Maldives tourism, has introduced The Coral Residences, Kandima. Nestled on the northern end of the lush and green three-kilometre-long Kandima Integrated Island Resort in Dhaalu Atoll, this residential development is a first of its kind and promises to redefine luxury living in the Maldives.

Designed and crafted with meticulous attention to detail, The Coral Residences, Kandima, is a unique, integrated beachfront residential community with exceptional 5-star service, situated in the shimmering blue heart of the Maldives.

The Coral Residences comprises of 40 exquisitely designed two bedroom and three bedroom apartments. All apartments feature contemporary design and chic interiors, high-end finishes, state-of-the-art appliances, and unobstructed panoramic sea views across the Indian Ocean. Residence owners will enjoy exclusive access to a host of premium facilities, including a private beachfront pool, a gourmet restaurant and bar, dedicated fitness and recreation facilities and a 24-hour concierge service.

Buyers of The Coral Residences will be able to own their apartments under the new strata title ownership program. Owners’ apartments will be part a rental program, managed by Pulse Hotels & Resorts. Residents will have the access to the full range Kandima’s 5-star resort services, including its restaurants and bars, spa, recreation, and other amenities to complement their lifestyle. With its emphasis on comfort, convenience, and community, this development offers a truly elevated living experience.

“We are thrilled to introduce The Coral Residences, Kandima, to discerning local and international buyers,” said Sanjay Maniku, Managing Director of Pulse Hotels & Resorts. “With its unparalleled design and amenities, homeowners can take advantage of a limitless world of activities and experiences on offer at Kandima. We believe this development will set a new standard for luxury living in the Maldives, as well as bringing a new definition to the Maldives family vacation.”

The Coral Residences is realised by Pulse Hotels & Resorts, the creators behind The Nautilus Maldives, Kandima Maldives, and Nova Maldives. Known for their innovative hospitality concepts, Pulse Hotels & Resorts ensures that each property offers exceptional experiences and world-class service. The development has commenced and is expected to complete within Q3, 2025.

For more information, high-resolution images, and to schedule a private viewing, please contact Aishath Ihuma, Director of Business Development at +960 7788986 or aishath.ihuma@coralresidencesmaldives.com.

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Weixin Pay supported to boost Chinese tourists to Maldives

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On May 27, Zihuny Rasheed, Deputy Managing Director of Maldives Marketing and PR Corporation (MMPRC/Visit Maldives), and Etienne Ng, Weixin Pay’s Country Manager, Singapore and Regional Director, Southeast Asia, WeChat Pay, signed a three-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) during ITB China 2024, pledging to support more Maldivian merchants to accept WeixinPay to provide Chinese tourists with a convenient payment experience. Visit Maldives is the Official Destination Partner for this year’s edition of ITB China.

“China is a key source of tourists for the Maldives, and we greatly value the experience of Chinese visitors,” said DMD Zihuny Rasheed. “We plan on promoting the acceptance of Weixin Pay throughout the country, offering Chinese tourists the payment option they are familiar with and prefer. I have used Weixin Pay during my visit to China via linking an international card, and I can attest to the convenience of the mobile payment option.”

Ibrahim Faisal, Minister of Tourism of the Maldives, expressed his support, “Excited that we’re introducing Weixin Pay for Chinese visitors, which is another step in establishing Maldives as their top destination. Now, it’s easier than ever for Chinese travellers to enjoy their stay, hassle-free. We look forward to further enhancing their experience,” he wrote.

According to Etienne Ng, Weixin Pay is currently being piloted at the country’s airport duty-free store, as well as in popular restaurants like Sala Thai and City Garden. Additionally, a range of hotels and resorts are participating including, JEN Maldives Malé by Shangri-La, Adaaran Select HudhuranFushi, Adaaran Club Rannalhi, Adaaran Prestige Vadoo, Adaaran Prestige Water Villas, Velaa Private Island, Cheval Blanc Randheli Private Island, Dhawa Ihuru Maldives, Ayada Maldives, Marriott Bonvoy, Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island and Angsana Velavaru in Maldives with strong support from the Bank of Maldives and local merchants. Making smooth progress, the initiative is expected to have 8,000 merchants nationwide that integrate the payment option.

“Weixin Pay is committed to providing users with safe and convenient payment services. Since the visa exemption policy was implemented, more and more Weixin Pay users have chosen to travel to the island country. Through our cooperation with Visit Maldives, we aim to provide Chinese users with the same convenient experience in the travel as they experience at home,” he said.

In February 2023, an Agreement on Mutual Exemption of Visa Requirements signed between the Maldives and China took effect as China expands its visa-free policy to benefit more countries. Consequently, the Maldives has consistently ranked among the top overseas destinations for Chinese tourists during popular travel periods such as the May Day and National Day holidays.

According to data from Visit Maldives, the country welcomed over 1.8 million tourists in 2023, a new national record. The Chinese market has been a key source market for the Maldives. As of 11th May 2024, it is the number one source market with 91,073 tourist arrivals.

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