Tourist arrivals have increased 5.7 percent in 2017 compared to the first nine months of 2016, reaching nearly a million visitors at the end of September.
According to statistics released this week, 105,984 tourists visited during September, up four percent from the same period last year.
The continuing decline of Chinese holidaymakers was offset by strong numbers from traditional European markets and double-digit growth from new markets like India, Thailand and South Korea.
China remains the top supplier of tourists with a market share of 23.7 percent but arrivals have declined by -8.8 percent compared to last year. Some 236,728 arrivals were recorded as of September.
After rapid growth from 2010 onward, Chinese arrivals peaked in 2014 with about 364,000 visitors and have been steadily declining since 2015.
Germany and the United Kingdom represented the second highest market share with 7.6 percent each. Some 8,793 German holidaymakers visited in September, up 12.4 percent from September 2016.
Compared to the first three quarters of 2016, however, arrivals from Germany only grew by 2.2 percent (76,231 tourists) and British arrivals declined marginally by -0.8 percent (75,506 tourists).
But arrivals from Italy, the third largest market, grew by 22.1 percent, reaching 62,196 tourists at the end of September.
After poor results during the past two years, arrivals from Russia also grew by 33.4 percent to 42,458 tourists. Reflecting its continuing recovery, the French market registered a modest growth 2.8 percent.
Among rising Asian markets was India with 55,727 tourists representing a 26.5 percent growth. Korean arrivals rose 16.1 percent to 22,420 tourists.
Despite the overall growth, the occupancy rate of the resorts dropped to 62 percent from 69 percent in September 2016, reflecting the 15 percent annual increase in operational bed capacity due to the opening of several new properties this year.
Tourist arrivals reached a record 1.3 million last year, below the government’s target of 1.5 million. Despite a 4.2 percent annual growth in arrivals in 2016, revenue from Tourism Goods and Services Tax decreased by -4.4 compared to 2015, suggesting shorter stays and lower spending by tourists.
However, T-GST receipts have increased from MVR3 billion (US$195 million) last year to MVR3.1 billion (US$201 million) from January to September this year.