The tourism industry is the largest economic industry in the Maldives and is the top contributor to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the nation.
The Maldivian economy is highly reliant on the economic benefits of tourism. Tourism is a source of foreign currency and plays a significant role in creating employment opportunities in the tertiary sector.
With the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the tourism sector contributed 21.4% to the GDP in 2021. This is the highest contribution by any given sector in the Maldives and more than one-third of the government revenue is generated from this sector.
As the COVID-19 pandemic fades, the Maldives has dropped and eased entry requirements related to vaccination and testing.
This year marked the Golden Jubilee of Tourism in the Maldives and the nation is inching closer towards achieving its target of 1.6 million tourist arrivals for the year. According to statistics, Maldives has welcomed a total of 1,451,809 tourists so far and has already surpassed that for the entire year 2021.
This October, Maldives also marked the highest number of tourist arrivals in a given month in the history of Maldivian tourism, a figure that had not been achieved even in the record-breaking year of 2019.
The change in travel scenario after re-opening the borders altered the top ten markets to the Maldives significantly.
For the first time in the history of tourism in the Maldives, India bagged the first position in the top ten list. As a short-haul market, the Indian market currently contributes over 14% to the total arrivals and direct flights such as Indigo bring in the most passenger load.
The Russian market has stepped up to 2nd place this year from 6th place in 2019. The Russia-Ukraine war did not impact tourist arrivals to the Maldives as expected. The conflict between the two nations leads tourism experts in Maldives to estimate this would impact arrivals to Maldives, and subsequently, it’s economy. However, the arrivals from Russia have been steady this year.
The U.K market has always been a sturdy market to the Maldives and held a strong presence throughout the history of tourism in the Maldives. Ranking in third place this year, arrivals from the U.K improved when British Airways resumed direct flights to the Maldives.
Tourist arrivals to the Maldives have increased for all markets this year, with the highest number of tourists visiting from India, the UK, Russia, Germany, and Italy. A large number of tourists have also visited from the USA, France, Spain, South Korea, and Switzerland.
Velana International Airport (VIA) has recorded a 27% increase in international flight movements so far this year compared to the same period last year.
According to the monthly statistics published by Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA), 11,070 international flights arrived at VIA from January to September 2022. Last year, only 8,698 international flights were recorded in the same period, hence showing a 27% increase this year. Chartered and scheduled flights however show a decrease of 12.3% as this year 1,609 flights were recorded in this area whereas, during 2021, 1,834 flights had been recorded.
As of right now, 29 international flights are operating in the Maldives.
As of now, 166 operational resorts amounting to 40,765 beds are registered in the Maldives. 871 hotels and guesthouses are further registered with 15,670 beds.
Safari vessels account for the lowest total bed capacity with 157 safari vessels and 2,900 beds cruising around in the Maldives.
Even amidst the pandemic, Maldives has once again secured the title of the World’s Leading Destination (among several other accolades) at the 2022 World Travel Awards, globally recognised as the hallmark of industry excellence. This is the third consecutive year that the Maldives had successfully earned this prestigious title, a shining testimony of the trust placed in the ‘magic of Maldivian hospitality’ by travellers from all over the globe.
As per the growth in arrivals this year, Maldives is expected to welcome 2 million tourists in 2023. Tourism Minister Dr Abdulla Mausoom stated that the goal is to have over 2 million tourist arrivals and 14.5 million bed nights for the year 2023. He expressed confidence that the goal can be achieved based on this year’s promising tourism statistics.