17% growth in arrivals in Q1 2018

Statistics published by the Ministry of Tourism show a year-on-year growth of 17% in tourist arrivals for the first quarter of 2018. Arrivals were higher in each of the three months in the first quarter compared to the Q1 of 2017. This is in comparison to a 4% increase for arrivals in the first quarter of 2017 compared to that of 2016.

This is a delightful surprise considering a large number of cancellations received by resorts during February due to the State of Emergency declared on February 5. It just shows that there is extremely strong growth for the Maldives during this year; strong enough to quash the negative effect of the difficult political situation the country experienced during most of February and in March.Looking at each of the months separately; arrivals in January 2018 was 13.6% higher than the previous year. Both February and March showed strong growth, with February showing a growth of 19% year-on-year and March 18.5% higher than the number of arrivals received in March 2017.

Talking to local media in March this year, Minister of Tourism, Moosa Zameer said that it is a great success that the country has been able to achieve a growth of 19% for February, in spite of the State of Emergency, and that he can predict that the rest of the year would prove to be successful.

He went on to say that the government will strengthen its work of providing information on the state of the country to travel agents, public relations agents and the media to promote the Maldives as a destination and that although the government is working hard to promote the country, the most important contribution is made by individual resorts.If we look at the resort segment specifically, it has fared quite well too in terms of occupancy, achieving 94% in February this year compared to 81% in February 2017 and 91.1% in February 2016. March also fared better than 2017 with 77.2% compared to 68.5% in 2017. However, it was way below that of March 2015 and March 2016 in which occupancy was at 82.6% and 84.8%, respectively.

During the last three years, the number of resorts in operation has increased from 109 in 2016 to 121 in 2017 to 129 in 2018, and with that beds in operation during the first quarter has increased by 11% and 10% in 2017 and 2018, respectively, the number of beds increasing from 24,049 in 2016 to 26,706 in 2017 and to 29,277 in 2018.

For all tourist establishments combined, the occupancy for the first quarter of 2018 was 73.9% up from 69.9% for the first quarter of the previous year, that too, with the total number of beds in operation going up by 11% year on year reaching 40,893 in the first quarter of this year.Who has contributed to the growth in the first quarter of this year? Arrivals from Europe increased by 23.3% compared to the first quarter of the previous year while arrivals from Asia and the Pacific increased by just 8.5%. The strong performance of Europe is mainly contributed by the strong growth of arrivals from Russia with an increase of 32% and Italy with a 25% increase, the United Kingdom with 12.2%, Germany with 22% and France with 22% increases when compared to the same period in 2017.Although arrivals from Asia and the Pacific shows a growth of 8.5% for the first quarter, the region’s major source market, China shows a slight decrease of 0.8% compared to the previous year. The growth from the region is mainly contributed by the increase in arrivals from India, showing a growth of 13.3% and an increase of 41% from the sub-region of Southeast Asia which includes Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines.

This has slightly shifted the overall composition of arrivals in the first quarter of 2018 compared to the first quarter of the previous year. In 2018 Arrivals from Europe contributed 57% of the total, compared to 54% in 2017, while arrivals from Asia and the Pacific contributed 35% of the total compared to 38% in the previous year.The Minister of Tourism is positive about the performance for the rest of the year. Zameer stated that the year will show good performance during the rest of the year and that there will be a significant increase in arrivals and in performance with the opening of the new runway at Velana International Airport later this year.