Maldives expects Chinese visitor arrivals to recover to pre-COVID level, with a y-o-y rise of 40% this year
Published: Jan 11, 2024 11:40 PM
North Male Atoll, Maldives (Photo:

North Male Atoll, Maldives (Photo:

The Maldives expects the number of Chinese visitor arrivals this year to recover to the pre-pandemic level, with an increase of 40 percent compared with last year, as new bilateral agreements with China are instituted, Fathmath Thaufeeq, managing director of the Maldives Marketing & Public Relations Corp (MMPRC), the national tourism office of the Maldives, told the Global Times in an exclusive interview on Thursday.

China was the top source market for the Maldives' tourism industry before the pandemic in 2019, when the number of travelers from China declined, but that is likely to change this year.

China is now the third-largest source market, down from first before the pandemic.

In 2022, the Maldives recorded only 12,764 Chinese tourists as the nation's borders were closed. With the resumption of direct flights from China to the Maldives in January 2023, the numbers rose magnificently.

The Maldives welcomed more than 172,163 tourists from China in 2023, jumping from 27th place in 2022 to the third-largest source.

The Maldives is making more efforts to attract Chinese tourists, such as Chinese-language marketing activities on popular Chinese social media platforms, such as Weibo and WeChat, according to Thaufeeq.

The South Asian country has also participated in major travel trade shows and events in China to maintain a strong relationship through tour operators and travel agents.

Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu is on a five-day visit to China from Monday to Friday, with new deals in various sectors being signed, marking a great start to bilateral relations for the year.

There were successful discussions on further direct flights to the Maldives from different regions of China, Thaufeeq said. "This showcases the importance that we give to China as a partner and as a market, and will undoubtedly further strengthen bilateral ties."

"China has long remained one of the most significant sources for the Maldives' tourism industry ... there was consistent growth in arrivals [of Chinese travelers] before global border closures and after the reopening of Chinese borders," the managing director said.

"We hope to recover to pre-pandemic arrival figures within this year with a further 40 percent increase," Thaufeeq said.

Zhao Qiankun contributed to the story