Tourist arrivals in March increased six percent in annual terms but declined five percent in monthly terms, reaching 105,560 guests during the month, according to the Maldives Monetary Authority’s (MMA) monthly economic review released yesterday (April 30).
“The annual increase was due to the rise in the number of arrivals from China which oﬀset the decline in arrivals from Europe,” explained the central bank’s monthly update of “developments in key economic sectors”.
Total bednights meanwhile rose two percent in annual terms, “while the average duration of stay declined marginally.”
The occupancy rate also decreased slightly compared to March 2013, falling to 82 percent. The report noted that the operational capacity of the tourism industry rose during the review month.
The Tourism Ministry meanwhile revealed yesterday that tourist arrivals in the first quarter of 2014 increased 9.7 percent compared to the same period of 2013, reaching a total of 321,561.
Europe retained the largest market share, accounting for of 51.3 percent of all arrivals to the Maldives with a total of 321,561 tourists during the first quarter of the 2014, the Tourism Ministry stated.
Asia and the Pacific recorded a growth rate of 24.4 percent at the end of first quarter of 2014, bringing in an additional 26,606 tourists to reach a total of 135,839.
The region accounted for 42.2 percent of arrivals to the Maldives at the end of first quarter of 2014.
According to the Tourism Ministry, the Chinese market expanded by 24 percent with an additional 16,960 tourists compared with the same period of 2013.
Statistics from the Tourism Ministry show that 331,719 Chinese tourists visited the Maldives last year, which was a 44.5 percent increase from the previous year.
Chinese tourists accounted for 29.5 percent of all tourist arrivals in 2013.
The Maldivian economy is largely dependent on tourism, which accounted for 28 percent of GDP on average in the past five years, and generated 38 percent of government revenue in 2012.
Meanwhile, in the second largest industry, the volume of fish exports as well as earnings “fell signiﬁcantly by 80 percent and 66 percent respectively” compared to March 2013.
The decline was accounted for by the fall in the volume of and earnings from “fresh, chilled or frozen tuna exports.”
“The International Monetary Fund (IMF) commodity price index fell marginally in monthly and annual terms during March 2014,” the central bank noted.
“The monthly decline was mainly due to the fall in both petroleum and metal prices which oﬀ set the increase in food prices during the review month.”
The price of crude oil in March 2014 was US$104 per barrel.
The inflation rate in the Maldives meanwhile decelerated to 2.3 percent in March from 3.4 percent the previous month.
“This was largely contributed by the slower growth in food prices, especially fish, and also due to the moderate growth in the prices charged for housing and utilities,” the report explained.
“Similarly, the rate of inflation declined marginally in monthly terms during March 2014, which was also due to the slower growth in fish prices.”