Tourist arrivals reached one million on August 2, Tourism Minister Ali Waheed told the press on Wednesday, expressing confidence of reaching the target of 1.5 million visitors by the end of the year.
“We are trying to bring 1.5 million people before the government’s one-year anniversary [on November 17]. Statistics show that is achievable,” he said, attributing the growth to marketing and promotional activities.
The millionth visitor of 2018 arrived on September 9. The millionth tourist of 2017 arrived on October 1.
According to the minister, 994,733 tourists arrivals were recorded by the end of July, which represents a 17.2 percent increase from the same period last year. With 132,114 visitors, arrivals last month were also up eight percent from July last year.
The occupancy rate was 64 percent and the average duration of stay was 6.3 days.
Most tourists came from Europe but China retained first place as the top market from a single country. Bucking a downward trend since 2015, the number of Chinese holidaymakers grew 7.6 percent in July. India – which become the second largest market for the first time in June – remained in second place, followed by Italy, Britain and Germany.
With the exception of seven percent growth in January, tourist arrivals grew by double digits every month since February, reaching 862,589 visitors by the end of June, a 19 percent increase from last year.
In June, there were 146 resorts in operation along with 554 guesthouses on local islands as well as 153 safari vessels and 12 city hotels.
The expansion of the country’s main international airport along with the opening of several new resorts is also expected to boost visitor numbers. Some 20 new resorts are due to open this year.