Maldives revises 2019 tourist arrivals figure to record 1.7 mln

Maldives on Tuesday revised its record arrival figures from last year, raising the number of tourists that visited the popular Indian Ocean holiday destination in 2019 from 1.67 million to 1.7 million.

Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC), the official tourism promotion body, had announced last week that the Maldives concluded 2019 with a record 1.67 million tourists.

However, the tourism ministry said Tuesday that 1.6 million tourists visited the Maldives by December 15, with the 1.7 millionth visitor arriving in the country on December 31.

Official figures released by the tourism ministry on Tuesday show that a total of 1,702,831 tourists visited the Maldives in 2019 — a 14.7 per cent increase over 2018. December alone saw 171,292 tourists visiting the country.

Europe dominated the market with a marketshare of 49 per cent, as arrivals from European countries recorded year-over-year growth of 14.8 per cent to reach 833,904 in 2019.

Asia Pacific followed closely with a marketshare of 41.4 per cent. Arrivals from the region recorded year-over-year growth of 13.5 per cent to reach 704,117 in 2019.

The relatively new American market, which recorded year-over-year growth of 23.3 per cent, secured a marketshare of five per cent as arrivals from the US reached 84,793, whilst the Middle East and Africa had a marketshare of 3.5 per cent and 1.1 per cent, respectively.

China maintained its position as the top contributor to Maldives tourism with a marketshare of 16.4 per cent.

India, which had recently overtaken traditional European markets to claim the second spot, increased its marketshare to 9.7 per cent. India was the best-performing individual market of the year, as arrivals recorded year-over-year growth of 83.5 per cent to reach 166,015 from 90,474 in 2018.

Italy, which had recently lost the second place to India, was able to maintain its position as the third biggest source market with a market share of eight per cent by the end of the year, whilst Germany and the UK had a marketshare of 7.7 per cent and 7.4 per cent, respectively.

The Maldives had in November welcomed the 1.5 millionth tourist of the year, reaching the destination’s initial target for tourist arrivals for the year 38 days ahead of schedule.

The Maldives welcomed 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, the government has announced an ambitious target of attracting at least two million tourists to the popular Indian Ocean holiday destination in 2020.

The government aims to attract 2.5 million tourist arrivals per year by the end of its first five-year term in 2023.

To achieve this target, the government had added MVR 50 million (USD 3.23 million) to the annual marketing budget of the tourism ministry.

In the state budget for 2020, the government had allocated MVR 154.2 million (USD 9.98 million) for tourism promotion — up from the MVR 104.2 million (USD 6.7 million) in 2019, and MVR 34.73 million (USD 2.2 million) each in 2018 and 2017.

However, challenges remain as the world-famous holiday destination struggles to match demand with a rapid increase in 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 150. 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.

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