China is set to initiate charter flights between various Chinese destinations and the Maldives starting from 14 February, Wang Lixin, the Chinese Ambassador to the Maldives, has announced. This initiative is a direct outcome of an agreement inked during President Mohamed Muizzu’s recent diplomatic visit to China.

Ambassador Wang made the announcement in a meeting with the local media. She underscored China’s commitment to assist President Muizzu in his endeavour to reinstate China as the primary source market for Maldivian tourism. The inaugural charter flight is slated to depart from Fujin City, China, on 14 February. Ambassador Wang also hinted at the possibility of introducing commercial flights, subject to an increase in demand.

Upon his return from the diplomatic visit to China, President Muizzu shared that fruitful discussions were held with Chinese officials with the objective of reestablishing China as the leading source market for the Maldivian tourism industry. The talks also encompassed the potential of increasing direct flights between the two nations.

In addition to the charter flights, President Muizzu announced the commencement of flights by China’s Xiamen Airlines in March this year. He also unveiled his government’s strategic plans to promote the Maldives in the Chinese market.

The announcement of the charter flights aligns with the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC), unveiling a series of strategic tourism promotion activities specifically designed to enhance the Maldives’ appeal as a premier tourism destination in the Chinese market.

As part of these initiatives, the MMPRC has announced its participation in the ITB China 2024 fair, a leading B2B-exclusive trade show catering to the Chinese travel market. The event is scheduled for 27 to 29 May at the Shanghai World Expo Exhibition and Convention Centre, Shanghai.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, China was recognised as the Maldives’ largest tourism market. In an effort to revitalise this relationship, the government is actively seeking to increase the number of tourists visiting the Maldives by 40 percent of pre-pandemic levels.

The number of arrivals from China has been steadily increasing, nearing pre-pandemic levels following the reopening of global borders. In 2023, the Maldives welcomed over 172,163 tourists from China, securing its position within the top three source markets for the Maldives.