The Maldives Monetary Authority estimated tourism receipts to have reached US$4.5 billion in 2022, up from US$3.5 billion in 2021.
“This was a growth of 41% when compared to the US$3.2 billion registered in 2019,” according to the central bank’s annual report released on Tuesday (April 25).
The annual increase of 28% from 2021 reflected the robust recovery of Maldives tourism from the Covid-19 pandemic, which continued last year despite the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the complete absence of Chinese holidaymakers, who accounted for the largest source market before the pandemic. While three airlines operating direct flights from Russia and Ukraine were suspended in March 2022, Russia’s flag carrier Aeroflot resumed operations in the second quarter.
The central bank estimated the gross value added (GVA) of the tourism sector “to have registered an annual growth of 22.4% during 2022, following the significant rebound of 152.0% observed in 2021.”
Tourist arrivals surpassed the government’s target of 1.6 million for the year and reached a total of 1,675,303 in 2022 (98% of the 1.7 million tourists arrivals in 2019). Tourist bed nights increased by 22%, while the average stay moderately declined to 8 days from 8.8 days in 2021.
“The increase in arrivals primarily reflected the pent-up demand from traditional source markets of Europe as well as key Asian source markets,” the central bank observed.
Tourists from Europe accounted for 61% of arrivals with Russia the top market followed by the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy. The market share of arrivals from the Americas and Middle Eastern countries also rose during the year with American tourists accounting for 5% of total arrivals.
India was the single largest source market from Asia, accounting for 14% of total arrivals. But the number of Indian tourists fell by 8% from the previous year, “partly owing to the base effect related to the transit arrivals from the country during 2021.” South Korea, an emerging market before the pandemic, was among top ten source markets in 2022, “primarily owing to the improved marketing efforts by the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) during the year.”
There were 2,402 flights to the Maldives in 2022, up 19% from 2021 and an 11% growth compared to pre-pandemic levels.
“This mainly reflected the rise in flight movements from major carriers such Singapore Airlines, Emirates, SriLankan Airlines, Gulf Air, Fly Dubai, Qatar Airways, and Turkish Airlines. At the end of 2022, there were 34 airlines operating flights to the Maldives (compared with 30 in 2021 and 37 in 2019),” the report noted.
“However, the average seat occupancy remained low at 22% during 2022, when compared with the 57% recorded in 2019— although an improvement was observed when compared with the 8% registered in 2021. During the year, new airlines which commenced operations to the Maldives at the start of the peak season include Eurowings Discover (a new leisure airline of the Lufthansa Group), Kuwait Airways, and Wizz Air (a Hungarian ultra-low-cost carrier).”