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Tourist arrivals up 15 percent in first quarter

Arrivals reached nearly half a million by the end of March.



Tourist arrivals reached 482,978 by the end of March, a 15 percent increase compared to the first quarter of 2018, according to statistics released by the tourism ministry this week.

Some 162,843 tourists visited during March, up 22 percent from the same month last year.

Bucking a downward trend since 2015, the number of Chinese holidaymakers registered a 5.6 percent growth in March. With 76,568 tourists, 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).

With 269,619 tourists, traditional European markets accounted for 56 percent of arrivals.

The number of tourists from India grew a whopping 86 percent compared to March last year. There were 36,116 arrivals from the neighbouring country, representing the fifth largest market share with 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.

Some 140 resorts, 153 safari vessels, 12 hotels, and 546 guesthouses on local islands were in operation during March with a total of 46,981 beds.

The occupancy rate was 75 percent with an average stay of 6.2 days.

Despite the growth in arrivals, proceeds from the tourism goods and services tax declined to MVR1.5 billion (US$97 million) in the first quarter, down from MVR1.6 billion collected during January to March last year.

T-GST accounted for 31 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.