The Maldives has registered a 77.8 percent increase in tourist arrivals from the Middle East region in the first quarter of 2012 compared to the same period last year, while some traditional markets have shown signs of recovery.
The quarterly report from the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) speculated that the Middle Eastern increase came following the opening of several hotel chains from the region.
“In particular it is important to note the exceptional growth from the Saudi Arabian market,” the report noted.
Arrivals from Germany increased 20.4 percent on the back of improved economic conditions and increased flight frequency, while Switzerland increased 24.5 percent – largely due to the availability of direct flights from Zurich.
However several of the country’s other high-volume markets registered substantial decreases. Arrivals from the UK – the Maldives’ second largest market – fell 12 percent, while Italy and France also recorded a decrease. Small increases in arrivals from Denmark and Norway were offset by declines in arrivals from Finland and Sweden..
Growth slowed in Chinese arrivals, which last year eclipsed the UK as the country’s largest market by volume, with a 16.4 percent increase on the back of cancelled charter flights due to the country’s ongoing political turmoil. Tour operators suggested growth would return in June-July, the MMPRC noted.
Russian arrivals, 19,919 of whom accounted for 7.8 percent of the country’s market share, increased 19.7 percent: “Eastern European region remains the most important emerging market for Maldives,” the report noted.
The MMPRC identified South Africa, India and the USA as potential new opportunities for Maldives tourism, but noted the need for improved flight connections. Growth in the Indian market was hampered by the lack of air connections and the financial difficulties of Indian airline operators.
“Much interest has been generated amongst the Americans with the emerging trend in live aboard cruises in the Maldives,” the MMPRC observed.
Arrivals from selected markets and growth in first quarter 2012 on 2011:
Germany 26,355, +20.4% (10.3 percent market share)
Switzerland 11,803, +24.5%
China 46,662, +16.4%
Russia 9,919, +19.7% (7.8 percent market share)
South Korea 4329, +21.7%
France 25,195, -1.3% (9.8 percent market share)
UK 24,395, -12%
Italy 26,939, (10.5 percent market share)
Japan 8114, -5 percent
India 6179, -10.4 (2 percent market share)
Austria 7152, +11.4%
South Korea 4329, +21.7%
South East Asia (inc Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand) 4515, +12.1%
USA 3566, +6.6%)
Middle East 4344, +77.8% (1.7 percent market share)
Spain and Portugal 1828, -1.33%
South Africa 576, -21.2%
Northern Europe 4499, – 9.2% (Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden)
Israel 713, +61.7%
Turkey 1088, +20%