The government is in talks with Chinese aviation companies to launch direct flights to the Maldives, Tourism Minister Moosa Zameer said Tuesday.
He was speaking at the opening ceremony of the ‘Forum for Cooperation on Tourism between China and Maldives’ on Kurumba Island Resort, state media reported.
It was organised in collaboration with the Chinese tourism ministry and China embassy in Malé. A Chinese delegation of about 100 officials is participating in the forum, along with 60 representatives from the Maldives tourism industry.
China remains the top source market for tourists despite a steady decline since 2015. After rapid growth from 2010 onward, Chinese arrivals peaked in 2014 with about 364,000 visitors.
The market share of Chinese tourists has since fallen from a high of 30 percent to 16 percent in May. Some 16,927 Chinese holidaymakers visited during the month, down from 23,225 arrivals in the same period last year.
In August 2016, Mega Maldives Airlines – which pioneered direct flights to China – announced layoffs and downsizing plans, citing the slowdown in its core market.
The airline voluntarily liquidated in February after shutting down operations in May 2017.
Despite the declining Chinese numbers, overall tourist arrivals have increased by 10.6 percent compared to the first five months of 2017.