Minister of Tourism Ibrahim Faisal has engaged in discussions with key figures in China to boost Maldives tourism. During his ongoing visit to China, Minister Faisal met with representatives from Fliggy, the travel platform of the China-based Alibaba Group, to explore opportunities for increasing the number of Chinese tourists visiting the Maldives.

The discussions, which took place in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, involved Minister Faisal and Zhuoran Zhuang, the Vice President of the Alibaba Group and CEO of Fliggy. The main focus of the meeting was to brainstorm innovative ways to provide unique and thrilling travel experiences for Chinese tourists in the Maldives. Both parties also deliberated on strategies to collaborate and boost the number of Chinese visitors.

Minister Faisal expressed his enthusiasm about the potential collaborations with Fliggy, stating, “Excited about potential collaborations with Fliggy, Alibaba’s travel platform, to promote Maldives tourism. Looking forward to leveraging advanced tech[nology] and innovative strategies to showcase the Maldives.”

Fliggy, one of China’s leading travel platforms, offers various reservation and fulfilment services, including airline and train tickets, accommodation, car rental, package tours, and local attractions.

In addition to the meeting with Fliggy executives, Minister Faisal also met with Wan Qingchao, the Executive Vice President of China Eastern Airlines, on the sidelines of the ITB China 2024 fair in Shanghai. China Eastern Airlines, one of China’s largest airlines, resumed flight operations to the Maldives in February this year after a hiatus due to travel restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Minister Faisal and Wan discussed the prospect of introducing direct flights between China and the southern destinations in the Maldives. Minister Faisal expressed optimism about enhancing connectivity between China and the Maldives, including joint promotions and potential direct flights to the southern atolls.

President Mohamed Muizzu’s previous discussions with Chinese officials and the business community have resulted in several Chinese airlines resuming operations to the Maldives, which had been halted due to the pandemic. The Muizzu administration aims to make China the top source market for the Maldives’ tourism this year, a position China previously held before the pandemic.

As of 27 May this year, 98,908 Chinese tourists have visited the Maldives, according to statistics released by the tourism ministry. This indicates that China has maintained its position as the top source market for Maldives tourism this year.