Travellers from Russia and India drove tourist arrivals to the Maldives in November to above 35,000, as the island nation tries to recover its tourism-dependent economy which had been hard hit by the global coronavirus pandemic.
The country’s immigration department said Saturday that 35,759 tourists visited the Maldives in November. That marked a 66 per cent increase over October and pushed the total number of arrivals since the border reopening in July to more than 70,000.
The top 10 markets in November include:
- Russia: 8,581 (growth of 43 per cent over October)
- India: 7,610 (growth of 445 per cent over October)
- United States: 2,093 (growth of 44 per cent over October)
- United Kingdom: 2,091 (growth of 17 per cent over October)
- Germany: 2,087 (growth of 17 per cent over October)
- Ukraine: 1,245 (growth of 21 per cent over October)
- UAE: 1,033 (growth of 22 per cent over October)
- Brazil: 891 (growth of 65 per cent over October)
- Switzerland: 786 (growth of 376 per cent over October)
- Czech Republic: 580 (growth of 101 per cent over October)
Figures show that arrival numbers have been steadily rising since the border reopening on July 15, with the daily average of visitors climbing to 1,192 in November from 694 in October and 218 in September.
The maximum number of arrivals on a day also increased to 2,299 in November from 1,475 in October and 696 in September, while the minimum number of daily arrivals stood at 569 in November compared to 114 in October and 97 in September.
The positive development about arrival numbers reflect strong demand seen by travel agents and tour operators in several source markets. It also follows the resumption of scheduled passenger services by several global airlines.
Travel firm Kuoni has revealed that travellers in the UK were planning to splash out on luxury Christmas overseas trips after settling for summer staycations, with demand for year-end getaways in Maldives on the arise.
Bookings for 2021 trips to the Maldives are also on the rise.
Recent Google search data has also shown the Maldives as the top holiday destination among Europeans for next year.
Meanwhile, air connectivity between the Maldives and several major tourist source markets is also improving.
The Maldives reopened its borders on July 15.
With the border reopening, 30-day free on-arrival visa is issued to all tourists with a confirmed booking for a stay at any registered tourist facility in the country.
There is no mandatory quarantine or testing on arrival, but tourists have to complete an online health declaration form and provide a negative PCR test result taken at least 96 hours prior to their departure.
Visitors with symptoms of the Covid-19 respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus or those travelling with someone who has similar symptoms are also tested at their own expense.
The coronavirus outbreak has hit the Maldivian economy hard, as travel restrictions and other preventive measures affect the country’s lucrative tourism industry, which contributes the bulk of the island nation’s state revenue and foreign reserves.
Before the pandemic, the government had been bullish about tourism prospects, targeting two million, high-spending holidaymakers this year after last year’s record 1.7 million.
However, only 382,760 tourists visited the Maldives before the country closed its borders on March 27. It was a 40.8 per cent decline over the 646,092 that visited the Maldives from January to March last year.
Meanwhile, the government’s best case scenario now puts total tourist arrivals for 2020 just above 500,000.
Tourism has been the bedrock of the Maldives’ economic success. The $5 billion-dollar economy grew by 6.7 per cent in 2018 with tourism generating 60 per cent of foreign income.
However, the government is at present projecting a possible 13 per cent economic contraction this year — an estimated $778 million hit.
On March 8, Maldives reported its first cases of the novel coronavirus, as two hotel employees tested positive for Covid-19 at a luxury resort in the archipelago.
Eighteen more cases — all foreigners working or staying resorts and liveaboard vessels except five Maldivians who had returned from abroad — were later identified.
A six-case cluster of locals, detected in capital Male on April 15, confirmed community transmission of the coronavirus. Several more clusters have since been identified, bringing the total number of confirmed case in the Maldives to 13,143.
Forty-seven deaths have been reported, while 12,199 have made full recoveries.
The Maldives announced a state of public health emergency on March 12, the first such declaration under a recent public health protection law.
The public health emergency declaration allowed the government to introduce a series of unprecedented restrictive and social distancing measures, including stay-at-home orders in capital Male and its suburbs, a ban on inter-island transport and public gatherings across the country, and a nationwide closing of government offices, schools, colleges and universities.
Non-essential services and public places in the capital such as gyms, cinemas and parks were also shut.
Restaurants and cafes in the capital were asked to stop dine-in service and switch to takeaway and delivery.
A nationwide shutdown of all guesthouses, city hotels and spa facilities located on inhabited islands was also ordered.
The restrictions are now being eased in phases, with the third phase measures now active.