An Overview of the Maldives Tourism Industry in 2021
As 2021 concluded, Maldives welcomed over 1.3 million tourists for the year, surpassing its tourist arrival targets despite the several challenges faced during the year due to the pandemic of COVID-19. Since the reopening of borders for international travellers in July 2020, tourist arrivals have steadily been increasing with the Maldives with an overall increase during this year compared to that of 2020.
Maldives recorded its 1 millionth tourist arrival on 29th October 2021 and 1.3 millionth tourist arrival on 27th December 2021 reaching the yearly target. Tourist arrivals in 2021 started to bounce back with the easing of travel restrictions as well as safety measures against Covid-19 implemented in the Maldives.
As the tourist arrivals were recorded at 1,321,937 on 31st December 2021, it is a 138% increase from the slow arrivals recorded in 2020 due to the closing of borders of the Maldives. Tourist arrivals in 2021 however, shows an overall decrease of 21% in comparison to the arrivals recorded during the same period in 2019, a record-breaking year for Maldives tourism.
Daily arrivals during the year remained over 3,600 tourists with an average stay of 8 nights.
India remained the top market for Maldives tourism in 2021 dominating over 22% with 291,787 arrivals. Russia followed closely at second contributing 16.8% with 222,422 tourists. Third, comes Germany contributing 7.2% with 95,358 arrivals. Other top markets include the U.K, U.S.A, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Ukraine, France and Switzerland respectively.
India climbed the ranks and made its place as the #1 top source market for the Maldives since February 2021 overtaking Russia. New markets emerged from the European Region and the Middle East including Ukraine and Saudi Arabia.
Countries like Italy and United Kingdom (UK) – the Maldives’ most traditional market for tourism saw a decline in arrivals in 2021 due to the travel restrictions. They were only given the green light to travel to the Maldives from September onwards and arrivals from Italy and UK are expected to increase this New Year.
Additional ease of restrictions from Southeast Asia countries such as Singapore and Thailand with the commencement of direct flights, tourist arrivals from these countries are expected to increase significantly as well.
According to the latest annual statistics released by the Ministry of Tourism, a total of 1,140 tourist accommodation facilities were in operation till 29th December 2021 including resorts, marinas, guesthouses, safari vessels and hotels. The total operating capacity was recorded as 53,140 beds.
Despite the global challenges, the year 2021 has been a very successful year for Maldives tourism. Tourist bed capacity increased by 9.4% and the bed nights exceeded 11 million breaking the previous record of 10.7 nights. Furthermore, Maldives won the World’s Leading Destination Award by World Travel Awards for the 2nd time consecutively.
This year, Maldives is also getting ready to celebrate an exceptional year, marking 50 years – the Golden Jubilee celebration of tourism in the Maldives.