Maldives’ tourist arrivals post 12.4 per cent growth in Aug
Tourist arrivals to the Maldives in August recorded year-over-year growth of 12.4 per cent, the island nation’s tourism ministry announced Wednesday.
Official figures for the month of August released by the tourism ministry show that a total of 139,338 tourists visited the Maldives during the month — an 12.4 per cent increase over August 2018.
According to the August statistics, total arrivals for the past eight months of the year increased by 16.6 per cent to reach 1,134,071 compared to the same period last year.
The strong performance in the January-August period is mostly due to a significant rise in tourist arrivals from the traditional Europe market, which recorded year-over-year growth of 15.6 per cent, and the relatively new American market, which recorded year-over-year growth of 25.5 per cent.
Tourist arrivals from Europe stood at 546,373 in the past eight months, accounting to a market share of 48.2 per cent, whilst the Americas contributed 4.9 per cent of the total arrivals. Asia Pacific also contributed 42.2 per cent of the total tourist arrivals with 478,048 tourists from the region holidaying in the Maldives by the end of August.
Relatively new markets such as Africa and the Middle East also maintained their strong performance.
Middle East saw its market share reach 3.9 per cent due to a 14.9 per cent increase in the number of tourist arrivals (42,774) in the January-August period, whilst Africa, which observed a 22.4 per cent growth in arrivals, contributed one per cent (11,555) of the total tourist arrivals over the past eights months.
All the top five source markets posted positive growth in arrivals by the end of August.
Despite a slight year-over-year drop of 2.1 per cent in arrivals in August, China maintained its position as the top contributor to Maldives tourism with a marketshare of 18.1 per cent, as arrivals from China increased by 5.9 per cent during the January-August period to reach 205,591.
India, which had overtaken traditional European markets to claim the second spot, maintained its position, as the Maldives’ closest neighbour retained a marketshare of 9.2 per cent with a 104.1 per cent growth in tourist arrivals during the past eights months of the year. A total of 104,242 tourists from India spent their vacation in the Maldives during the period.
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 32.1 per cent to reach 92,162 in the January-August period.
Germany and the UK, which slid to fourth and fifth position in May before exchanging their positions in July, exchanged places again in August, as the UK once again fell to the fifth position with a marketshare of 7.3 per cent, whilst Germany’s marketshare increased to 7.5 per cent. Arrivals from Germany grew by 19.1 per cent to reach 84,745 during the past eight months of the year, whilst visitor numbers from the UK saw an increase of 10.5 per cent to reach 83,089 during the period.
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.
The one millionth visitor of the year arrived in the Maldives on August 2 — 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.
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.