Tourist arrivals reach half a million in 2014

Tourist arrivals in 2014 reached half a million at the end of May, registering an increase of 11.9 percent compared to the same period in 2013, the Ministry of Tourism has revealed.

“By individual market performances, China continues to show remarkable performances maintaining its number one position as the market leader with more than 27 percent shares. At the end of May 2014, a total of 141,249 tourists arrived in Maldives from China, which was 23.3 percent increase over the same period of 2013,” the ministry noted.

The Maldives welcomed a total of 518,166 guests from January to May 2014 with Europe contributing 48.3 percent of arrivals.

However, the Asia and Pacific region overtook Europe in the month of May with 55 percent of arrivals or 50,354 tourists.

Total arrivals from the region from January to May (229,847) also increased 24.7 percent compared to the same period last year.

“India, Japan and Korea were the second, third and fourth markets respectively from this region. Indian market saw an increase of 13.1 percent during the period in review contributing 3.5 percent as market shares at the end of the period.”

The Tourism Ministry also noted that the number of registered tourist establishments at the end of May was 460 with 30,510 beds, “out of which on average 291 establishments with a sum total of 27,004 beds were operational during the period in review.”

“These include 105 tourist resorts (23,029 beds), 17 hotels (1,510 beds), 112 guest houses (1,539 beds) and 57 safari vessels (927 beds),” the ministry revealed.

“The overall bed nights of these establishments saw an increase of 5.9 percent during the period reaching a total of 3,262,667 nights. While the occupancy rate recorded an increase of 2.3 percent to attain an average of 80.2 percent for the period, average duration of stay of the tourists saw a decline of 0.4 percent. The average duration of stay for the period was 6.3 days.”

Meanwhile, in its monthly economic review, the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) noted that tourist arrivals in May reached 91,296 visitors, which was an increase of 15 percent in annual terms.

However, when compared to the previous month tourist arrivals showed a decline of 13 percent. The annual increase in arrival was contributed by the increase in the number of arrivals from Asia, despite the decline in number of arrivals from Europe,” the central bank observed.

“In May 2014, total bed nights rose by 4 percent in annual terms while the average duration of stay declined by 9 percent. With the increase in bed nights, the occupancy rate increased marginally to 68 percent in May 2014 compared to the same period last year.”

Chinese market

A consultation meeting was meanwhile held earlier this month – facilitated by Mega Maldives Airlines – between Maldivian government representatives and Chinese travel agents to discuss the potential of further increasing Chinese tourists to the country.

The Maldives was represented by Deputy Tourism Minister Hussain Lirar and Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) Managing Director Abdulla while the travel agents included CYTS, CAISSA, Russian Vision, Beijing Sunshine, Wendy Feeling, CTRIP, and Tuniu, Mega Maldives noted in a press release.

According to the airline, “significant ground work was done to address the concerns raised by the market as well as working on ways in which both parties can work to further improve the market.”

The government’s recently introduced guest house island policy was meanwhile received with enthusiasm by the Chinese tour operators.

“The agents were enthusiastic about the development of 2000 bed capacity in the mid-market range while at the same time retaining the resort concept and were keen to work with the local partners to block rooms in the future,” the statement said.

“The agents highlighted the importance of further marketing campaigns in China and developing a safe environment for the Chinese tourists.  The agents also further emphasized the importance of having more Chinese speakers in the resorts and airports that are equipped to give safety information to the tourists.”

Mega Maldives Airlines CEO George Weinmann meanwhile reportedly proposed incorporating a Travel Industry China-Maldives Association together with the Chinese travel agents and industry partners in the Maldives.

“The seminar was concluded with both parties agreeing to continue the dialogue to further improve the Chinese tourism arrivals to the Maldives,” the statement read.