By Chandeepa Wettasinghe
Tourist arrivals to the Maldives increased 0.4 percent year-on-year (yoy) to 95,114 in September with most major markets recording declines, along with falls in occupancy rates and duration of stay.
Asia and the Pacific remained the largest regional market with 53,454 arrivals, falling 1.9 percent yoy. Chinese arrivals fell 6.5 percent yoy to 32,198, while Japanese arrivals rose 18 percent yoy to 3,948, Korean arrivals fell 34.7 percent yoy to 2,108 and Indian arrivals rose 2 percent yoy to 3,323.
Sri Lankan arrivals fell 10.1 percent yoy to 1,270, while Singaporean arrivals fell 30.2 percent yoy to 1,099 and Australian arrivals declined 2.7 percent yoy to 1,950.
Some Asian countries showed signs of becoming emerging markets for the Maldives, with Thai arrivals increasing 169.6 percent yoy to 2,192 and Bengali arrivals increasing 431.7 percent yoy to 638.
The second largest market Europe fell 2.6 percent yoy to 35,056 arrivals. German arrivals fell 0.3 percent yoy to 8,140, British arrivals fell 3.4 percent to 6,799, French arrivals fell 14.9 percent yoy to 1,664, Swiss arrivals fell 10.8 percent yoy to 1,590 and Russian arrivals fell 42.9 percent yoy to 2,309.
Spanish arrivals made a positive mark in the major European markets, increasing 21.4 percent yoy to 1,960.
Middle Eastern arrivals increased 66.2 percent yoy to 4,674, possibly due to Islamic religious holidays falling in the first week of October. Saudi Arabia was the largest source, increasing 78.8 percent yoy to 1,919 arrivals, while arrivals from the United Arab Emirates rose 47.4 percent yoy to 616.
Arrivals from the Americas increased 14.3 percent yoy to 3,423, with US arrivals increasing 14.7 percent yoy to 2,100.
Arrivals for the first 9 months of 2015 increased just 2 percent yoy to 919,277. Asia Pacific remained the largest customer with 50.5 percent of the market, increasing 3 percent yoy while European arrivals fell 1.4 percent yoy to 41.5 percent of the share.
The Middle Eastern arrivals made up 3.7 percent of the total for the 9 months, increasing 17.6 percent yoy, while the Americas made up 3.6 percent, increasing 15.3 percent yoy.
Occupancy rates were 62.7 percent for September falling from 66.5 percent yoy and 69.5 percent for the first 9 months, declining from 74.1 percent yoy.
Average duration of stay in September decreased to 5.5 days from 5.7 days yoy, while for the first 9 months decreased to 5.7 days from 6.1 days yoy.
Tourism in Maldives is extremely important for Sri Lanka because many Lankan firms are operating resort hotels in the archipelago.
Sri Lanka’s John Keells group and Aitken Spence operate a number of mid-range resorts in the Maldives.
The LOLC group-controlled companies Brown Investments, Palm Garden Hotel and Eden Hotel last year invested US $ 1.5 million to acquire a beach resort in the Maldives.
Sri Lanka’s third largest hotel operator Jetwing and the new entrant Laugfs group have also expressed interest to operate resort hotels there.