Maldives 2019 tourist arrivals cross one million
Maldives has welcomed over a million tourists this year, as the destination attempts to reach an ambitious target of 1.5 million visitors over the next three months.
Tourism minister Ali Waheed told journalists on Wednesday that the one millionth visitor of the year arrived in the Maldives on August 2.
“Through renewed efforts, we are confident that we will be able to welcome 1.5 million tourists by the first anniversary of our administration (on November 11),” the minister said.
The Maldives marks one millionth visitor milestone this year a month ahead of last year. In 2018, the one millionth mark was reached on September 9 whilst it was celebrated in October the previous year.
Meanwhile, official figures for the month of July released by the tourism ministry show that a total of 132,144 tourists visited the Maldives during the month — an eight per cent increase over July 2018.
According to the July statistics, total arrivals for the past seven months of the year increased by 17.2 per cent to reach 994,733 compared to the same period last year.
The strong performance in the January-July period is mostly due to a significant rise in tourist arrivals from the traditional Europe market, which recorded year-over-year growth of 16 per cent, and the relatively new Asia Pacific market, which recorded year-over-year growth of 17.4 per cent.
Tourist arrivals from Europe stood at 487,165 in the past seven months, accounting to a market share of 49 per cent, whilst Asia Pacific contributed 41.5 per cent of the total tourist arrivals with 413,066 tourists from the region holidaying in the Maldives by the end of July.
Relatively new markets such as the Americas, Africa and the Middle East also maintained their strong performance.
Arrivals from the Americas increased by 26.6 per cent to reach 49,821 in the January-July period compared to the same period last year, accounting to 26.6 per cent of the total tourist arrivals.
Middle East also saw its market share reach 3.5 per cent due to a 16.6 per cent increase in the number of tourist arrivals in the January-July period, whilst Africa, which observed a 24.9 per cent growth in arrivals, contributed one per cent of the total tourist arrivals over the past seven months.
All the top five source markets posted positive growth in arrivals by the end of July.
China maintained its position as the top contributor to Maldives tourism with a marketshare of 17.4 per cent, as arrivals from China increased by 7.6 per cent during the January-July period to reach 172,834.
India, which had overtaken traditional European markets to claim the second spot, maintained its position, as the Maldives’ closest neighbour retained a marketshare of 9.4 per cent with a 99.2 per cent growth in tourist arrivals during the past seven months of the year.
Italy, which had in May lost the second place to India, maintained its position as the third biggest source market with a market share of 8.1 per cent. Arrivals from Italy increased by 32.3 per cent to reach 80,713 in the January-July period.
Germany and the UK, which slid to fourth and fifth position in May, exchanged places, as the UK claimed the fourth position with a marketshare of 7.4 per cent, whilst Germany’s market share dropped to 7.2 per cent by the end of July. Arrivals from Germany grew by 10.4 per cent to reach 71,479 during the past seven months of the year, whilst visitor numbers from the UK saw an increase of 11.1 per cent to reach 73,262 during the period.
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.