Europe continued to be the dominating market for the Maldives in 2018, as it was seen to close the year with a record number of tourist arrivals. The Maldives ended 2017 with a record 1.39 million visitors, and by November 2018, the country had attracted over 1.3 million visitors. In 2016, the total number of tourist arrivals were recorded at 1.29 million. Statistics released by the Ministry of Tourism show that the Maldives attracted 1,333,456 visitors from January to the end of November, which is a seven per cent increase over 2017. Figures showed the Maldives inching closer to its target of attracting over 1.5 million visitors. The tourism ministry has yet to reveal the final arrival statistics for 2018.
European travellers continued to be the dominating force, attracting over 48 per cent of tourists, with strong numbers from Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy and France. European visitor numbers grew 12.5 per cent from the January to November period, compared to the corresponding period the previous year; 643,665 European visitors were recorded in 2018, to the 572,021 recorded in the same period in 2017.
In November alone, the Maldives saw visits from 64,207 European visitors, a 6.7 per cent hike from the 60,170 visitors recorded in November 2017. Looking at the separate markets, the highest contributions were from Germany, with German visitor numbers growing 3.5 per cent to 106,660. Germans contribute 8 per cent of the total visitor numbers.
Travellers from the U.K. followed second from the European market with a staggering 10.1 per cent increase to 103,818. U.K. visitors constitute 7.8 per cent of the total arrivals. Italian tourist numbers also saw a significant increase in 2018, with an 18.1 per cent rise to a total of 87,510 in total, while visitor numbers from France also grew 19.5 per cent to a total of 44,062.
Travellers from the Asia Pacific region continued to be the second dominating force, despite a downward report from Chinese travellers. Though Chinese tourists constituted 20 per cent of the total arrivals, China saw a downward growth of -7.1 per cent compared to the January to November period in 2017. Yet, China continued to be the leading market in 2018 with a total of 266,376 visitors. However, positive figures from Indian visitors showed an increase of 7.7 per cent, with a total of 75,814; contributing 5.7 per cent of the total arrivals.
Numbers from Russia were on a positive trend, increasing 17.3 per cent to 63.783 arrivals, followed by Japanese visitors at 37,713 and Australian tourists with a total arrival of 34,523. The Australian market saw the highest positive growth; with an increase of 39.3 per cent in the corresponding period. Arrivals from the other regions showed the Americas with 5 per cent, the Middle East with 4 per cent, following by Africa with one per cent of the visitor contributions.
With a number of new openings in 2018, the bed capacity in the resort market grew 8.4 per cent, with the total number of resorts recorded at 145 offering 31,423 beds in total. The guesthouse market also saw an increase in terms of its offerings with a 12.7 per cent rise in bed capacity at the 508 registered establishments offering a total of 8,292 beds. Hotel capacity also saw of 19.1 per cent, despite a negative performance from safari vessels contributing – 0.3 per cent growth with a total of 2,772 beds on offer. At the end of November, the total accommodation capacity stood at 44,345 beds, which is a 9 per cent rise compared to the January to November period in the previous year.
Occupancy was seen to be picking up at a slow pace, with the occupancy rate at November recorded at 61.4 per cent; a one per cent rise from that of the previous year, despite strong occupancy recorded in the first quarter of the year. Looking back at statistics from the January to October period, the number of arrivals saw an increase of 7.3 per cent, with a total of 1,207,852 visitors. October alone saw the tourist arrivals figures at 127,393.
Europe was seen to dominate the numbers with 48 per cent of the visitors, bringing in 576,458 tourists by the end of October – an increase of 13.2 per cent of arrivals from Europe in 2017. Visitors from the Asia Pacific region follow in second with a total of 42.9 per cent, bringing in an overall 517,722 tourists – a growth of 1.3 per cent from the corresponding period in 2017.