Tourist arrivals increased by a whopping 36.2 percent in April compared to the same period last year, representing the highest growth rate since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
Some 190,713 tourists visited last month, up from 163,000 tourists in April last year, Tourism Minister Ali Waheed told the press on Tuesday, attributing the growth to political stability since the new administration took office in November as well as “combined efforts by the government and the industry.”
As pledged during last year’s presidential election campaign, the annual tourism promotion budget has been increased threefold to US$6.7 million.
Tourist arrivals reached nearly half a million at the end of the first quarter, a 15 percent increase compared to the first quarter of 2018.
Arrivals were up 20 percent by the end of April with a total of 646,092 visitors.
After a downward trend since 2015, the number of Chinese holidaymakers has increased by seven percent so far compared to the first four months of the previous year.
During the first quarter, China remained the largest source country with a market share of 16 percent followed by Italy (11 percent), Germany (7.7 percent), and the United Kingdom (7.5 percent).
Along with an increase in occupancy and the average duration of stay, arrivals from the top 10 markets posted positive growth in April, the tourism minister noted.
One of the fastest growing markets, Indian arrivals registered a year-over-year growth of 7.5 percent.
The Maldives is becoming a popular destination among Indians with the resort trips of Bollywood celebrities drawing media attention. More than 90,000 Indian tourists visited last year, up from fewer than 16,000 a decade ago.
Reflecting the strong arrivals growth, proceeds from the tourism goods and services tax reached US$139.6 million by the end of April, up from US$138 million in the same period last year.
T-GST accounted for 34 percent of tax revenue.
There were a record 1.4 million tourist arrivals in 2018. The new government is aiming for 1.5 million visitors this year, a target that was missed in previous years.
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.