Reversing the months long declining trend in the tourist arrivals, Maldives saw 120,468 arrivals in February 2015, its highest ever monthly tourism arrivals recording 8.8 percent year-on-year (yoy) growth led by the strong Chinese arrivals, the Ministry of Tourism data released showed.
January arrivals to the archipelago narrowed 7.8 percent yoy but strong arrivals in February increased the total arrivals in the two months by 0.7 percent to 217,541 arrivals.
However the average occupancy levels declined 4.8 percent to 80.7 percent and the average duration of stay slightly edged down to 6-days in during January and February.
“Maldives tourism bounced back with record number of tourists visiting the country in February 2015. Beating the all-time record of 110,705 tourists in February 2014, the 120,468 tourists that visited the Maldives in February 2015 was the highest recorded in a month so far in the history of Maldives tourism,” the country’s tourism ministry said in a statement.
Tourism in Maldives becomes 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.
Tourist arrivals market share by region for Maldives is led by Europe (49.3 percent share), Asia and Pacific and America, the five largest individual markets are China, Italy, Germany, United Kingdom and France with market shares of 29.3 percent, 7.5 percent, 7.3 percent and 5.7 percent.
Chinese arrivals rose a staggering 30.5 percent to 43,349 in February and for the first two months the number is 63,818. China accounts for 29.3 percent of the market share.
The notable rise in Chinese arrivals in February is due to Chinese new year falling on February 13.
Germany overtook United Kingdom by just 70 tourists to become the third market.
Similarly France overtook Russia to become the fifth largest market for Maldives but the arrivals from France have been declining.
“During the last two months of 2015, while important markets such as Russia, and Japan registered declines of -43.9 percent and -0.6 percent respectively, significant increases were recorded from Denmark (+82.8 percent), United Arab Emirates (+47.9 percent), Brazil (+44.6 percent), Spain (+40 percent) and Romania (+33.9 percent) at the end of the period,” the statement further said. Despite the record high number of arrivals, the country’s Inland Revenue Authority was reported to have said it has not translated in to higher earnings.
They have said the revenue collection was 17.6 percent below forecasts due to the decrease in tourism related revenues by 17 percent as tourist arrivals did not meet expectations.
Meanwhile the authorities are also optimistic that the political unrest sparked by the arrest of the former President Mohamed Nasheed on February 22 will not reverse the positive arrivals trend and they are effectively countering the calls for tourism boycott campaign which is going viral on social media using PR firms.