Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb has said that the 1,450,637 figure quoted as the total tourist arrivals for the year 2014 has been misinterpreted.
Speaking to Minivan news, Adeeb explained that the figure revealed at the conclusion of the ‘Tourist Arrival Countdown Show’ on New Year’s Eve was actually the projected arrivals for the new year.
“There was a little confusion regarding the figure, maybe it is because of the way we presented it. The 1.4 million is projected arrivals for 2015, while 2014 arrivals is more than 1.2 million,” said Adeeb.
Statistics made available through the tourism ministry’s website reveal that the total tourist arrivals at the end of November 2014 stood at 1,101,113 – just under the total figure for 2013 – with 89,778 tourists visiting in November alone.
A ministry press statement released today said that 1,204,857 tourists arrived in the Maldives during 2014, adding that Adeeb had started the tourist countdown for 2015 during the show with the aim of reaching 1.4 million.
The ‘Tourist Arrival Countdown Show’ was itself mired in controversy after Jamaican dancehall star Sean Paul cancelled his appearance following an online video threatening to kill him if he were to perform at the show.
However, the show went ahead with Indian music duo Salman and Sulaiman Merchant headlining the event before the tourist arrival countdown figure was revealed shortly after an 8 minute firework display at midnight.
It was also revealed that American R&B star Akon would be performing in Malé on January 8 – also on Adeeb’s invitation – to promote Maldives tourism.
Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) spokesperson Hamid Abdul Gafoor suggested the misinterpreted arrival figures were aimed to deceive, warning that such things could have a “negative impact of public and investor confidence in”.
“These figures were obviously not misinterpreted. They were presented in manner through which everyone was made to believe that this was the arrivals for 2014,” said Hamid.
Speaking to Minivan News about the tourism industry in 2014, Tourism Employee’s Association of Maldives (TEAM) Secretary General Mauroof Zakir said that even though total arrivals increased, the tourism industry suffered as a whole in 2014.
“Total tourist arrivals have increased compared to the previous year. However, as arrivals from Europe and Russia decrease, less income is generated as the replacing Chinese visitors spend less and stay for lesser periods,” said Zakir.
Speaking in a press conference last month, Adeeb noted that the weakening Russian ruble has effected occupancy rates, while Haveeru reported industry insiders of saying that the Russian market could drop by 10 percent.
According to the Maldives Monetary Authority’s (MMA) last quarterly economic bulletin , the number of Chinese tourists – representing the single largest market share with 27 percent – declined by 4.9 percent.
Expressing his opinion on the Chinese market, Hamid said that Chinese Tourists see the Maldives as a “trending and fashionable” destination, suggesting the market’s growth may not last.
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