Maldives over half-way towards one million visitor goal following August arrival growth

Arrival numbers to the Maldives between January and August this year totalled 614,802 people – an increase of 2.9 percent compared to the same period during 2011, official figures provided by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture have shown.

With Maldives travel authorities aiming to welcome a million visitors to the country by the end of the year, the figures highlight a 3.8 percent increase in arrivals for August 2012 when compared to the same period the previous year.  A total of 79,768 international arrivals were recorded coming to the country last month.

Although unavailable for comment today, Deputy Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture Mohamed Maleeh Jamal told Minivan News earlier this month that the country’s travel industry was on target to meet its goal of attracting one million annual visitors – claiming the “the hard days” were over for Maldives tourism.

Maleeh claimed at the time that the industry remained on track to attract one million visitors, despite facing challenges such as the impact of ongoing financial uncertainty on some core European tourism markets like the UK and Italy.

According to the Tourism Ministry figures, for the first eight months of 2012, Europe continued to dominate visitor numbers to the Maldives, accounting for 55.7 percent of all arrivals – down 2.9 percent when compared to 2011.

During August, total European arrivals on a year-on-year basis fell by 9.6 percent to 35,488 visitors.

In Central and Eastern Europe, which includes markets like Russia, Poland and Bulgaria, visitors during August fell 7.7 percent compared to the same period in 2011.

In Northern Europe, which incorporates markets including the UK, Sweden and Ireland, arrivals dropped 14.3 percent to 8,202 last month, according to the official statistics.

Southern Europe also recorded a drop in arrivals with 7,710 visitors from markets such as Greece, Italy and Spain coming to the Maldives – a fall of 24.1 percent compared to the same period last year.

Arrivals were up by 5.6 percent from the Western Europe region on the back of growth in markets such as Germany, France and Austria, with 12,434 visitors entering the country during August 2012.

Europe’s smallest tourism market for the Maldives, Eastern Mediterranean Europe, saw 617 arrivals visitors coming from countries like Turkey and Israel, a fall of 7.9 percent.

The Asian impact

Asia was responsible for 38.5 percent of arrivals in the Maldives between January and August 2012, an increase of 9.1 percent over the same time last year.

Despite the overall decline in European visitors during August 2012 when compared to the same period last year, arrivals from the Asia Pacific market were up 12.6 percent to 38,898. The increase was reflected in increased visitors from key markets throughout the region.

North East Asia, which represents the bulk of the region’s travel market for the Maldives – with countries like China, Japan and Korea – saw arrivals increase by 9.4 percent to 31,020 people.

In South East Asia, visitors to the Maldives rose 45.1 percent during August 2012 to 2,809 from markets such as Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore.

South Asia meanwhile posted a 19.6 percent rise in visitors, with 3,623 arrivals from markets including India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh being recorded for the month on a year-on-year basis. Arrivals from Oceania markets like Australia and New Zealand were up 18.1 percent to 1,446 people.

According to the same findings, arrivals from Africa reached 524, an increase of 24.5 percent, while visitors from the Americas rose 19.9 percent to 2,146. Arrivals from the Middle East during August rose 3.4 percent to 2,712 people.

Occupancy rates

Despite the growth in arrivals, the total occupancy rate for resorts, hotels, guest houses and safari boats during the first eight months of the year was down 1.2 percentage points in total to 70.8 percent. On a year-on-year basis, total average occupancy for August 2012 fell one percentage point to 68 percent.

According to Tourism Ministry statistics, the average resort occupancy between January and August this year fell 2.3 percentage points to 77 percent compared to the same period in 2011. During August alone, average occupancy fell 0.8 percentage points to 74.9 percent.

At the country’s hotels, average occupancy for the first eight months of the year was down 8.8 percentage points to 30.3 percent. In August, average hotel occupancy was down 6.1 percentage points to 25.8 percent over the same time frame last year.

Guest house occupancy for the first eight months of 2012, rose 0.8 percentage points to 16.3 percent. The same level of growth was also recorded in terms of average guest house occupancy for August 2012, which rose 0.8 percentage points to 16.3 percent.

Safari vessel occupancy meanwhile increased 4.1 percentage points between January to August 2012, totalling an average of 28.4 percent. However, average occupancy during August had fallen two percentage points to 19.1 percent.