Recent data released by the Tourism Ministry has shown a significant upswing in tourist arrivals in the Maldives this year, surpassing figures from the same period in both 2021 and 2022. As of 29 June, 920,156 tourists visited the country, indicating a notable growth of 14.2% compared to the corresponding period in the previous two years.

This surge in tourist footfall showcases the Maldives’ ability to rebound and thrive following the challenges posed by the global pandemic. The encouraging data aligns with efforts undertaken by the Maldives Marketing & PR Corporation (MMPRC), which is responsible for promoting the destination. The MMPRC has been actively carrying out a variety of global marketing campaigns with the aim of not just recovering, but also surpassing the pre-pandemic levels.

The results thus far are promising, with China making a highly anticipated return to the top ten markets list. Due to border closures during the pandemic, China, a crucial contributor to the Maldives’ tourism industry, had been absent for the past two years. However, with travel restrictions lifted, China now accounts for 6.7% of the total arrivals. Despite MMPRC’s special two-month-long marketing campaign on Chinese social media platforms Weibo and WeChat, the destination faces uncertainties in light of a recent allegation of rape involving a female Chinese visitor at a Maldivian resort last month. Her tweets about the incident reached over 15.2 million users on Twitter, and the impact of this negative publicity remains to be seen.

Similar to 2022, neighbouring India retain their dominant presence in the market, maintaining an 11.9% share, albeit experiencing a slight decline from the previous year’s 14.4% figure. However, with the peak season approaching, there is significant potential for growth. Likewise, Russia experienced a slight decline from 12.1% to 11.7% of the market, likely influenced by the ongoing Ukraine-Russia conflict.

MMPRC participated in Pure Luxury 2023 and Moscow Dive Show earlier this year, events expected to boost visitor numbers from Russian in the final two quarters of this year. Moreover, MMPRC/Visit Maldives is currently running a special campaign targeting Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries which will continue through this month. The campaign aims to enhance the Maldives’ brand presence in the CIS market through native languages and a combination of digital and traditional marketing strategies, with the goal of attracting more travellers and surpassing last year’s 238,951 arrivals from the region.

Although the United Kingdom is currently ranked as the third top market for the Maldives, British visitors are expected to grow, particularly during the high season, as British billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic plans to inaugurate flights to the Maldives in October. The airline will offer direct flights from London Heathrow to Malé and intends to operate three weekly flights during the winter season.

The Tourism Ministry is optimistic about achieving the milestone of welcoming the one-millionth visitor for the year 2023 as early as July. With additional airlines planning to begin their operations to the Maldives, the country remains hopeful and confident about the months ahead.