China returns to top 10 markets

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China is back among the top 10 source markets for tourists, just a week after the first direct flight from China to the Maldives since 2020.

The first batch of Chinese tourists arrived on 18 January after a nearly three-year hiatus. China ended Covid-19 travel restrictions earlier this month. 

A total of 3,146 Chinese holidaymakers visited during the week. 

Two days after the first flight, the Chinese embassy in Malé announced that Chinese travel agencies and online travel operators have been authorised to resume “pilot outbound group tours for Chinese citizens” to the Maldives with effect on 6 February. The Maldives was among first group of countries cleared by the Chinese government.

The warm welcome accorded to the first group of Chinese tourists received widespread coverage in Chinese media, according to the embassy.

China was the largest source market before the pandemic with 284,029 holidaymakers in 2019, representing a 17% market share. After reopening borders, China no longer requires quarantines for returning travellers. 

As of 24 January, the Maldives welcomed a total of 133,000 tourists, up 29% from the same period in 2022. Russia was the top market with 18,549 tourists – representing a market share of 14% – followed by Italy (13,615 tourists) and India (13,116 tourists). The average duration of stay was 8.1 days.

There are 168 resorts, 877 guesthouses, 157 safari vessels, and 13 hotels in operation with a combined bed capacity of 59,768.