Tourist arrivals remain unchanged in February

Tourist arrivals remain unchanged in February
March 28 19:35 2016

Tourist arrivals to the Maldives remained unchanged in February with 120,639 arrivals, just a 0.1percent increase compared to the same period last year.

Statistics released by the tourism ministry today showed a 20 percent decline in Chinese arrivals despite the Chinese New Year holiday falling in February, while European arrivals picked up by 11percent off the back of an increase from Northern and Eastern Europe.

China retained top spot as the largest source market for tourists with 34,330 tourists. Europe accounted for 60,719 tourists or nearly half of all arrivals.

Resort occupancy registered a 0.3percent increase and stood at 92.2 percent. The figure is a significant increase from January, which saw occupancy rates decline to 75.4 percent. Occupancy rates at resorts had been declining in the wake of an unprecedented state of emergency declared in November.

Guesthouse occupancy increased by nearly 30 percent as compared to the same period last year, but only half of guesthouse beds were occupied.

Tourists spent an average of 5.6 days in the Maldives in February.

The government has launched the ‘Visit Maldives Year 2016′ campaign with a target of increasing tourist arrivals to 1.5 million this year.

Maldives hosted the international tourism and trade fair ITB held in Berlin, Germany earlier this month – an event Tourism Minister Moosa Zameer described as a major success despite an alleged tourism boycott campaign by the opposition over human rights abuses.

Growth was slower than expected in 2015. The government had set a target of 1.4million arrivals, but welcomed 1.2million by the end of December. The figure was still a 2.4percent increase from 2014.

Despite the increase in arrivals, last year saw a decline in occupancy rates and bed nights. Resort occupancy rates fell from 74percent to 67percent in December, the month that marks the onset of the tourism peak season.

The central bank said the real GDP growth for 2015 had slowed down to 4.8 percent instead of the predicted ten percent, “largely on account of slower-than-expected growth of the tourism sector.”

The Maldives Monetary Authority pinned the blame partly on President Abdulla Yameen’s declaration of an emergency

But Zameer, in a January interview with CNBC in Singapore, said the state of emergency, which lasted six days, had no effect on arrivals.

The Maldives had not been able to meet targets because of external factors, such as security concerns in Europe and lack of domestic infrastructure, he said.