An all-time high in seaplane movements was recorded on 2 January, Maldives Airports Company Ltd. (MACL) has revealed. MACL, the operator of the world’s largest seaplane terminal at Velana International Airport (VIA), disclosed that the combined efforts of three seaplane operators in the Maldives resulted in a total of 649 seaplane movements on the said day, thereby setting a new record. This figure eclipses the record of 629 seaplane movements set on 19 February 2023.

This surge in seaplane activity coincides with a significant influx of tourists to the Maldives for the holiday season and New Year celebrations. The majority of these tourists, particularly those bound for resorts located away from the Malé region, rely on seaplanes for transportation, especially during daylight hours.

In anticipation of the holiday rush, MACL expanded services, including increasing the number of private jet parking spaces at VIA to 68.

Given the high traffic movement at the airport on 7 January, MACL has issued an advisory for international travellers, urging them to prepare for heavy traffic. “To avoid long queues and possible delays, we encourage passengers to arrive three hours early for international flights,” VIA stated in a post on X (formerly Twitter), adding, “Our staff is standing by to ensure your journey through VIA is as seamless as possible.”

The Maldives also witnessed a record number of tourist arrivals in 2023, with 1,878,537 tourists visiting the country as of 31 December 2023. This figure represents an increase of approximately 12.14 percent from the number of tourist arrivals in 2022, which stood at 1,675,303.

In 2023, India led the tourism market for the Maldives with 209,198 tourists, accounting for 11.1 percent of the total. Russia followed closely with 209,146 tourists, representing 11.1 percent of the market share. China came in third with 187,118 tourists, followed by the United Kingdom with 155,730 tourists and Germany with 135,090 tourist arrivals. Other markets making it to the top ten list include Italy, the United States, France, Spain, and Switzerland.