Tourist Arrivals Reach 1.2 Million in 2014
The number of tourist arrivals reached 1,204,857 in 2014, marginally surpassing the tourism ministry’s target of 1.2 million visitors during the year. Tourist arrivals grew 7.1% compared to the previous year, which saw the Maldives welcome 1.1 million guests, the Ministry of Tourism revealed on Thursday, January 22. The 1-million target was met despite negative growth during November (-5.1%) and December (-1.2%) on the back of a sharp fall in arrivals from Russia and Western European markets as well as China and Japan.
Whilst the number of Russian tourists declined by 44.7% in December 2014 compared to the same period the previous year, arrivals from China and Japan dropped by 12.2% and 11.8% respectively. Arrivals from Western Europe declined by 1.2% with a fall of 10.7% for France and 12.6% for Switzerland.
Asia and Pacific
China retained its position as the single largest source market for tourists in 2014, accounting for nearly one-third of total arrivals during the year. With a 30% market share, a total of 363,626 Chinese tourists visited the Maldives in 2014, up 9.6% from the previous year with 331,719 arrivals.
However, the tourism ministry noted in its press statement that the growth of the Chinese market “declined considerably” towards the end of 2014. The growth rate slowed from 20% at the end of June to 9% by the end of December.
The Indian market meanwhile registered a strong growth rate of 19.9% last year compared to 2013 with 45,587 tourists (3.8% market share). Arrivals from Japan declined by 1.6% in 2014 compared to the previous year. Japan accounted for 3.2% of arrivals with 38,817 tourists.
Arrivals South Korea increased 15.1% compared to 2013, reaching 34,896 visitors or a 2.9% market share. Australia emerged as a potential market in 2014 with 18,872 tourists, 11.6% more visitors than the previous year.
The growth rate of the Maldives’ traditional European meanwhile flat-lined to 0.4% in 2014. The market share for Europe was 43.9% with 529,291 visitors. The top five source markets in Europe were Germany, United Kingdom, Russia, Italy and France. “The German market, as the leading market within Europe, has performed well during in 2014 ending the year with a positive growth of 5.1%,” the ministry observed. “With a total of 98,328 tourists, Germany accounted for 8.2% of all arrivals to the Maldives during 2014. The United Kingdom, was the second largest market within Europe in 2014. The UK market also performed well, increasing the volume to 88,704 at the end of 2014. The market recorded a positive growth of 3.3% in 2014.”
Due to the sharp decline in Russian tourists during December, arrivals from Russia fell by 13.3% in 2014.Russia was the fourth biggest source of tourists to the Maldives in 2013, with 76,479 visitors accounting for 6.8% of total arrivals. The fourth largest market in Europe, Italy, captured a market share of 4.8% in 2014 with 57,862 arrivals. Despite a 10% drop in arrivals during December, France remained the fifth largest market in Europe, accounting for 4.2% of all arrivals to the Maldives. The tourism ministry noted that the Americas registered the best growth rate during 2014 at 24.5%, reaching 41,044 visitors (3.4% market share).
Arrivals from the Middle East meanwhile increased 16.1% in 2014, accounting for 3.1% of all arrivals. The tourism ministry revealed that the registered number of resorts at the end of 2014 was 112 with 24,135 beds. “Two new resorts were opened in 2014, one in Raa Atoll and another in North Alif Atoll,” the ministry noted. While the number of hotels grew to 10 with a bed capacity of 1,704, the number of guesthouses increased to 216 with a 3,159-bed capacity.
“The number of registered safari vessels was 161 with 2,739 beds,” the press statement added. Of the total 508 registered facilities, the ministry revealed that 293 establishments on average were operational in 2014 with a combined bed capacity of 26,891. These include 22,914 beds in 104 resorts, 1,435 beds in 16 hotels, 1,477 beds in 108 guesthouses and 1,064 beds in 66 safari vessels. “The total bed night of these establishments was 7,310,280. This was an increase of 3.6% compared with that of 2013,” the ministry noted. “While the occupancy rate of these establishments saw an increase of 0.6% with 74.5% at the end of 2014, the average duration of stay was at 6.1 days, which was 0.2 days less than that of 2013.”