Maldives falls 40,000 short of million tourist target for 2012

The Maldivian government has narrowly failed to reach its target of one million tourist arrivals for 2012, according to figures released by Ministry of Tourism, after a year of political turmoil and an economic slump in key markets.

Despite arrivals falling short by roughly 42,000 tourists, figures released by the ministry have shown that overall arrivals rose 2.9 percent from 931,333 in 2011 to 958,027 in 2012.

Prior to the release of the figures, Tourism Minister Ahmed Adheeb predicted that while there may be a shortfall of roughly 20,000 in 2012, he was confident the ministry could achieve the one million mark in 2013.

“There were a lot of hiccups last year with the political turmoil that the country experienced. It is important that we do not compare ourselves to other destinations like Sri Lanka or Seychelles, as our tourism market is very different. We have a high-value tourism market.

“We will formulate a strategy to go forward this year and later this month [January] we are going to finalise the fourth master plan of tourism. I am sure we will get one million tourists in 2013. I can assure you of it,” Adheeb told Minivan News earlier this month.

Figures released by the  tourism ministry show that Europe, which accounted for 54 percent of all tourist arrivals in 2012, fell by 3.7 percent from 537,757 in 2011 to 517,809 in 2012. Arrivals from the United Kingdom – the second highest share of European arrivals to the Maldives this year – continued to fall from 104,508 in 2011 to 91,776 in 2012 – a 12.2 percent  drop.

Germany took over the UK in 2012 as having the largest share of European arrivals to the Maldives, growing by an extra 7,834 arrivals from 90,517 in 2011. The 8.7 percent increase in arrival numbers, meant that Germany was accountable for 10.3 percent of all tourist arrivals in 2012.

Italy, which had the second highest arrival share of European tourists in 2010, fell drastically in 2012 by 24.4 percent from 83,088 arrivals to 62,782.

Meanwhile, tourist arrivals from ‘Asia and Pacific’ regions continued year-on-year growth from 2010, increasing by 10.2 percent from 2011 and accounting for a 40.1 percent share in the overall market at 384,506 arrivals in 2012.

Shift to ‘low yield’ Chinese tourists

Chinese arrivals continued to grow in 2012, with a 15.6 percent increase from 198,655 in 2011 to 229,551 in 2012.

Chinese tourists now account for the largest share of arrivals from any nation in 2012 standing at 24 percent, a massive increase from Chinese arrival figures in 2009 which stood at 60,666.

Despite the high number of Chinese tourists, tourism experts stated back in 2010 that Chinese guests were relatively ‘low yield’ despite their high numbers.

Speaking to Minivan News in 2010, the now former Secretary General Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI), Sim Mohamed Ibrahim, said Chinese tourists tended to spend less than their European counterparts.

“The Chinese who come do not come for the sun and the beach – they come because the Maldives is a novelty, a safe destination, and because of their new-found freedom to travel. Resorts are saying there are not many repeat visitors from China,” he said at at he time.

Tourism growth slowed to less than one percent in 2012

Tourism growth meanwhile slowed to less than one percent in 2012. While the tourism industry grew by 15.8 percent in 2010 and 9.1 percent in 2011, the industry’s growth in 2012 was expected to be 0.7 percent.

The two main reasons cited by the Finance Ministry for the anaemic growth were “the political turmoil the country faced in February” and a decline in the average number of nights tourists spend in the country “as a result of a decline in the average number of days a tourist spent in the Maldives.”

On average, tourism accounted for 28 percent of GDP during the past 10 years.

Despite the widely reported Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) dispute between the Indian infrastructure giant GMR and the Maldivian Government in December last year – as well as claims of anti-India sentiment within the country – arrivals from India  increased by 34 percent in December compared to the same month in 2011.

The largest increase in tourist arrivals compared to 2011 was from the Middle East, which saw close to a 50 percent rise in arrivals for 2012 at 21,843 from 14,570 in 2011.

Arrivals from United Arab Emirates grew the highest in percentage from 2011 by 76.6 percent. Despite the high percentage growth however, the number of tourists was comparatively low to other countries standing at 4,047 in 2012.

MVR 70 million tourism marketing budget in 2012

The Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) was allocated a budget of MVR 70 million (US$4.5 million) in 2012 to conduct marketing activities for the year, almost double the 2011 budget of US$2.3 million, which saw the country receive 900,000 tourist arrivals.

Following February’s controversial transfer of power, the incoming government of President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan sought to utilise public relations groups and advertising to try and offset the impact of negative news headlines resulting from the controversial nature of the change in government.

That focus included a US$250,000 (MVR3.8million) advertising deal to promote the country’s tourism industry on the BBC through sponsorship of its weather services, as well as signing a £93,000 per month (US$150,000) contract with public relations group Ruder Finn to try and improve the country’s image internationally.

Maldives tourism authorities said back in October that they were confident the country would meet its one million visitor target, despite ongoing “political turmoil”.

Registered beds up, occupancy rates down

According to the 2012 statistics released by the Tourism Ministry, the average number of registered beds between resorts, hotels, guest houses and safari vessels stood at 27,702 in 2012 – an increase of 1,346 from 2011.

Despite the increases in tourism arrivals, bed nights fell from 6,529,200 in 2011 to 6,450,794 – a total drop of 1.2 percent – and the average days spent in the Maldives by tourists fell from 7.0 days in 2011 to 6.7 days in 2012.

Occupany rates also fell across all types of accommodation aside from a 1.9 percent increase on safari vessels. Altogether the occupancy rates fell from 73.1 in 2011 to 70.6 in 2012.

Maldives top five markets by visitor numbers (2012)

China: 229,551

Germany: 98,351

United Kingdom: 91,776

Russia: 66,378

Italy: 62,782


15 thoughts on “Maldives falls 40,000 short of million tourist target for 2012”

  1. if not for Anni's calling for boycott of tourism, this figure could have been reached. Very unpatriotic of Anni to do so.

  2. @ human being

    if not coalition's call to ban alcohol on inhabited islands this figure could have been exceeded. very unpatriotic of the coalition

  3. The number of heads doesn't improve life of a Maldivian or the economy of the country. How much they spend matters.

    Statistics prove (and Tourism ministry cannot deny) that revenue generated over five years ago with just 600,000 thousand arrivals is double what we have received in 2012 with nearly a million arrivals.

    We have lived for too long in the world of being confused with figures and stories. A million chinese arrivals will benefit resort owners as the income is just the bed paid back at home and deposited in off shore accounts. Half a million Europeans visitors will thrive our economy as they spend on extras (diving, fine dinning, spa, shopping in local islands, etc)

    It is a fact that we don't have the European market which is now replaced by the Chinese, Korean market. The industry players like Universal, Villa, Sunland, Suntravel, Champa, Crown Company, etc should sit on the same table, share the same cup of tea and come up with a combined voice, a combined marketing strategy to market the Maldives before we loose all our resorts to foreign investment which, unfortunately develops just the buildings and sends out all profits.

    MIRA and Finance ministry should come up with laws where ALL resort incomes are taxed, whether paid in advance abroad or within the country. The country needs money NOT to know how many tourist came yet the common man cannot afford a loaf of bread today.

    As maldives drowns financially, our little remaining income is used to build the economy of Seychelles where maldivian companies have invested so much. Are they taxed?????? Indian government taxed every penny GMR was making or using in Maldives!!!!!

  4. Very unpatriotic to have a coup too. That did more to destroy the image of the Maldives than anything else.

  5. The reason european guests have dropped is simple, you are pricing yourselves out of the market. We cannot sustain year after year of increases in excess of 30%. Europeans will go some place cheaper.

  6. I am a foreigner, coming often to Maldives to visit my local family here.
    In my social environment, people always were very enthusiast to go to Maldives. It has changed now.
    They read, utmost surprised, that a president or a government are not allowed to remove a judge who makes reenacting two kids their sexual abuse. They were shocked to read verdicts of courts based on black magic, condoms and cursed roosters. They are afraid for the hate towards foreigners (kafirs, laadheenes, unbelievers, missionaries, drugs - and alcohol addicts, democrats !! ). The still nagging video where the Western groom and bride at a wedding ceremony are called "pigs" and more filthy. The calls from so called religious people to ban about everything. The practice of flogging rape victims. Not at least all signs, including police brutalities and torture, that Maldives became a country where tourists are not really beloved (any longer).
    Do you really think it's funny ???
    But in our - European - countries, you want to be allowed to stay as long as you want ? You want to import Quran, imams who speak arabic only. You want to have your mosques. We have to accept your veils. We have to accept that you kill animals "halal" before eating, while OUR culture considers the same as torturing animals ? You want us to not exist in your country, while you want to enjoy all DEMOCRATIC rights in OUR country which you do not have in your own country ?

  7. If we want euroean market back then we need to stop doing negative campaign by Nasheed and his associates .

    Today companies are paying nearly 42 % of the profit as a tax . Tax is not only bed tax and GST but there are many other taxes that are being paid.

    Company annual fees, Trade License fees, Import duty, bed tax, GST , profit tax, pension tax.

    Taxes in this country is par with other tax regimes around the globe when compared with the GDP too.

    Since this is developing country, it is not going to be healthy have 80% taxed the companies and that would scare away the investors rather than attracting them to the country.

  8. There has to be a total change in tourism policy for maldives,high end resorts only benefit the extreme rich,have tourism in inhabited island,budget it to suit the europeans downturn,the island can get revenues(annual tax based on income),many island folks can get employed,THIS WILL BRING ABOUT benefits to maldives but maldives have to change it conservative outlook to tourism and interaction with people of other cultures, in male greed and concentration for tourist money by central government doesn’t benefit ordinary island folks(other countries are doing it uae,malaysia,oman& bahrain-direct tourism,not isolated tourism)

  9. AND MALDIVES better act fast since Srilanka out off war is offering similar packages to Maldives ,much more diversified country than maldives in tourism aspect,a culture more accepting of foreigners and last but not the least a cheaper pricing range`

  10. It's too big a lie that companies in Maldives pay 42% tax on profit (mody).
    The taxes you mention are all paid by the customers, be it tourists (tgst) and all consumers (import, gst, whatever). The resort owners - or hotels or whatever business - DO NOT PAY INCOME TAX on profit.
    The MDP goverbment was about to introduce income tax on them, which was their reason to support the coup.

  11. Mody, each time you open your mouth there is a distinct smell of dog s*** in the air.

    Tourist don't care about the polictics of the country so stop whinging on about Anni this, Anni that.

    Tourist look at international news and their own Foreign Office travel advice when looking for somewhere to spend their money. Seeing running riots in the street overthrowing governments or Islamic protests staged at the airport on Al Jazeera and the BBC or Newspapers reporting on woman being whipped for fornication or the You Tube clip of guys who verbally abuse the couple who were renewing their wedding vows at a resort is always going to entice the tourist to stay in your I think not.

    The fact of the matter is the whole country is to blame for the mess it is in and until the country changes it's attitude your tourism will continue to decline.

    Maldives is not a developing country it is on the backward spiral towards the 15th Century. What are you developing? Tourism is on the wane, Tuna markets are max out to the highest level. So what else does the Maldives have to offer? You are over budget, will default on loans because MPs voted out the proposal for the resort lease rental and taxes. So where will the income come from? On top of that there are 2 cases filed against the government for breach of contract, Nexus and GMR to the value of millions. Where is that money going to come from? Developing country my arse!!!! No foreign investor will risk sticking their cash in such a two faced country and neither will the tourist if they continue to see what a shambles the Maldives has become.

  12. Tourists, please dont finance the crime infested dectatorship of maldives.

  13. Mohamed.

    All companies have to pay profit tax of 15%, pension fund contribution, 7.5% and GST8% and company annual fees, trade license fees, custom duties and the aggregate tax will be of 42% of the profit.

    Maldives is a developing county and it will continue to develop and no matter how much some people hat about the development of the country.

  14. @dmf asolutly correct especially the one -maldives supposed to be the destination for honeymooners (not honeymooner abuse in reality,i guess this is what happens when wahabis influence the youth of maldives-abuse other cultures and religions)


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