Tourist arrivals to Maldives this year surpass half-million mark

Tourists at Velana International Airport on March 1, 2021. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

Maldives has announced tourist arrivals to the island destination this year has surpassed a half-million mark.

Tourism Ministry made the announcement in a tweet on Saturday afternoon, congratulating all industry stakeholders and thanking tourists.

Statistics released by Tourism Ministry show 500,406 tourists visited Maldives by last Friday.

The highest tourist arrivals in a single month this year was recorded in March, with over 109,000 arrivals – marking for the greatest performance since the pandemic.

Daily arrivals – which were upwards of 3,000 during the first four months of the year – have since dropped to 1,837.

The drop in arrivals is attributed to the decision to suspend tourist visas to travelers from India – which is experiencing an alarming rise in COVID-19 infections. India had been the top source for tourist arrivals to Maldives prior to the travel restrictions.

Other contributing factors to the low numbers include the onset of the tourism offseason, advisories issued by countries such as the UK and US warning against travel to Maldives due to the surge in COVID-19 cases, and the closure of borders in some countries.

The statistics show Russia is the top source for tourist arrivals to Maldives, with 120,514 arrivals by last Friday.

India ranks second with 89,599 visitors, followed by 27,151 visitors from Germany, 24,203 visitors from Ukraine, and 18,505 visitors from the US.

Other top source markets include Kazakhstan, UK, Romania, France and Czech Republic.

Maldives currently has 47,482 beds in 731 operational tourist facilities.

The COVID-19 pandemic hit the Maldivian tourism hard, forcing the destination to end last year with  555,494 – a significant drop compared to the 1,702,887 tourist arrivals recorded the year before.

Maldives initially targeted one million tourist arrivals this year, and later upped the target to 1.5 million after it rolled out its COVID-19 vaccination campaign.