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Tourist arrivals surpass one-million mark

The government hopes to welcome 1.5 million tourists in 2017, despite missing the same target during the past two years. After reaching a record 1.3 million in 2016, arrivals have grown by six percent as of October compared to the same period last year.



Tourist arrivals to the Maldives exceeded one million during October, reaching 1,125,995 visitors so far in 2017.

Some 127,986 tourists visited last month, up nine percent from October 2016, according to statistics released this week.

The government hopes to welcome a record 1.5 million tourists in 2017, despite missing the same target during the past two years. With the peak season due to begin in December, arrivals could surpass the record of 1,286,135 set in 2016.

As of October, arrivals in 2017 have grown by six percent compared to the same period last year.

The number of Chinese holidaymakers continued to decline but was offset by the recovery of traditional European markets and double-digit growth from new markets like the United States, India and South Korea.

China remains the top supplier with a 24 percent market share but arrivals have declined by -8.2 percent compared to the same ten-month period last year. Some 265,417 arrivals were recorded as of October. After rapid growth from 2010 onward, Chinese arrivals peaked in 2014 with about 364,000 visitors and have been steadily falling since 2015.

Germany was the second largest market with 91,238 tourists as of October, up 4.1 percent from last year. Arrivals from the United Kingdom declined marginally by 0.6 percent to 84,679 tourists.

Italian holidaymakers, the fourth largest market, increased by 22 percent to reach 67,094 arrivals in October.

The Russian market also continued its robust recovery, growing 32.4 percent to reach 47,943 tourist arrivals.

After falling during the past few years, arrivals from France reached 33,529, a modest growth of 1.3 percent.

The United States was among the top new markets with 30,450 tourists representing an 18.3 percent increase from the previous year.

Among rising Asian markets was India with 63,141 tourists and South Korea with 26,907 tourists, representing annual growth rates of 25.4 percent and 15.7 percent respectively.

The overall occupancy rate of the industry, however, dropped to 64.8 percent from 66.8 percent in October 2016, reflecting the increase in bed capacity due to the opening of several new properties this year.

T-GST receipts meanwhile increased from MVR3.3 billion (US$214 million) in the first ten months of 2016 to MVR3.4 billion (US$220 million) from January to October this year.

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, prompting concern from resort operators over shorter stays and lower spending by tourists.