The Maldives welcomed the 1.6 millionth tourist of the year on Tuesday (20 December), achieving the government’s optimistic target for 2022 with a week to spare.
Tejas Sanjay Kothari from India arrived on his first visit to the Maldives. Kothari and his partner were escorted by a cultural procession with traditional dance and boduberu to a welcome event, where he was handed special gifts on behalf of the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation and the Maldives Airports Company as well as the tourism ministry, immigration and customs.
Kothari was awarded a free holiday voucher from LUX* South Ari Atoll, and Vice President Faisal Naseem, chief guest of the ceremony, presented him with a traditional Maldivian Tannu.
The 1.6th millionth visitor “marks a major milestone, and a perfect ending to a year filled with achievements and accolades,” the MMPRC said.
MMPRC CEO Thoyyib Mohamed attributed the success to “the Government’s foresight in policy formulation; implementation during and post-covid; the sacrifices and hard work of employees of the tourism sector; the joint efforts of every single tourism sector stakeholder; and the noteworthy efforts of MMPRC staff and our network of global travel trade partners.”
Tourism Minister Dr Abdulla Mausoom congratulated industry stakeholders and hailed “sound tourism policies and the strong partnership between the government and the private sector.”
Tourist arrivals reached 1.5 million by mid-December, a whopping 28% increase from last year and only -2.1% below pre-pandemic levels. Arrivals in November was 6.5% higher than the same month in 2019.
India remains the top market with 224,640 tourists as of 14 December, representing a 14% market share, followed by Russia (189,586 tourists), the UK (168,123 tourists), Germany (126,866 tourists) and Italy (87,218 tourists).
The average duration of stay is down from 8.7 days in 2021 to 8 days this year. There are 166 resorts, 158 safari vessels and 875 hotels and guesthouses in operation across the country with a combined bed capacity of 59,715.
The Maldives tourism industry continues its robust recovery despite the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – which caused arrivals to plummet from the top market – and the complete absence of Chinese holidaymakers, who accounted for the largest source market before the pandemic.
A new record for monthly tourist arrivals was set with over 153,600 visitors in October, an 8% increase from the same month last year. A monthly arrivals record was also set in May with more than 104,000 holidaymakers. A nearly 100% increase was recorded in June and arrivals surpassed pre-pandemic levels again in July.