Maldives says India fastest growing tourist market in 2019

India was the fastest growing source market for Maldives tourism in 2019, the Maldives’ tourism ministry has announced.

India, which had recently overtaken traditional European markets to claim the second spot amongst the best performing source markets, 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.

A decade ago, fewer than 16,000 Indian tourists visited the Maldives.

The popularity of the Maldives as a holiday destination has been increasing in India thanks to a boost in air connectivity between the two nations. In addition to the flagship carriers of the two countries, several Indian budget carriers such as GoAir, Spice Jet and Indigo have launched direct connections between Male and important Indian cities such as New Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai.

High profile trips of Bollywood celebrities that draw media attention have also helped boost the Maldives’ popularity amongst Indian holidaymakers. Most recently, several Indian film stars, including Bipasha Basu, Sarah Ali Khan and others have celebrated the New Year in the Maldives.

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.

Official figures released by the tourism ministry 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.

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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