New tourist statistics show there were 246,606 arrivals to the Maldives over the first three months of 2011, a figure up 12.3 percent over the same time last year on the back of strong interest from the Asia Pacific and Eastern Europe, according to the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture.
Between January and March 2011, the Asia Pacific region in particular posted significant growth in tourist numbers, which were up by 36 percent compared to the same period last year, amounting to 69,024 arrivals to the Maldives – 28 percent of the total number of visitors recorded over the quarter. China was the region’s key tourist market for the Maldives, with 52,345 recorded visitors over the first three months of the year representing an increase of 53.2 percent compared to back in 2010. Arrivals from South Asia were also up by 41 percent to reach 9,913 visitors, a figure helped primarily by increased interest from India. Indian arrivals between January and March compared to the same period last year rose by 46 percent to 6,891 people.
The total tourism figures for the South Asia region, which includes nations like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan, accounted for just four percent of the total number of arrivals to the Maldives between January and March this year. Visitors from Europe, who accounted for 68.2 percent of total arrivals to the Maldives during the quarter, rose by 4.7 percent to 168,307 over the same period of time the previous year.
The statistics show that the increase was driven primarily by demand from Western European nations such as France, Austria and Belgium, as well as 27,324 visitors from Central and Eastern Europe, a figure up by 22.2 percent during the quarter when compared to 2010.
Western Europe, which accounted for 27.1 percent of the total number of visitors to the Maldives during the first three months of 2011, saw 66,755 people travelling to the Maldives over the period, up 8.8 percent from the 61,341 visitors recorded the previous year.
However, despite the overall increase in arrivals, visitor numbers from northern and Southern Europe declined over the three months by 4.1 percent and 3.3 percent respectively, particularly within key markets like the UK and Italy.
The number of travellers from the UK, which represented 11.2 percent of all tourist visitors to the Maldives between January and March this year, fell by 8.2 percent to 27,728 when compared to last year. Similarly the number of Italians travelling to the country, 14.8 percent of total visitors between Janaury and March, fell by 2.6 percent to 36,468 people over the same period of time.
In other international regions, the figures recorded that tourist arrivals from the Middle East were up by 10.5 percent to 2,428 over the quarter compared to last year, while arrivals from Africa increased by 10.1 percent amounting to 1,269 people.
Visitor numbers from the Americas increased by 18.8 percent over the three month period to 5,578, according to the figures.