The government anticipates a significant rebound in the number of Chinese tourists this year, aiming for a 40 per cent increase compared to the previous year, as new bilateral agreements with China take effect. Fathmath Thaufeeq, the managing director of the Maldives Marketing & Public Relations Corp (MMPRC), revealed this in an exclusive interview with the Global Times on Thursday.
Before the 2019 pandemic, China was the leading source market for the Maldives’ tourism industry. However, due to the decline in Chinese visitors during the pandemic, it slipped to the third-largest source. The Maldives has implemented various strategies to attract Chinese tourists, including targeted marketing on popular Chinese social media platforms such as Weibo and WeChat.
In 2022, the Maldives saw a mere 12,764 Chinese tourists due to closed borders, but with the resumption of direct flights from China in January 2023, the numbers soared. The country welcomed over 172,163 Chinese tourists in 2023, climbing from 27th place in 2022 to become the third-largest source.
Maldives has actively participated in major travel trade shows and events in China to strengthen ties and attract more visitors. President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu’s visit to China includes the signing of new deals across various sectors, indicating a positive start to bilateral relations for the year. Successful discussions have taken place regarding additional direct flights from different regions of China, highlighting the importance of China as a key partner and market for the Maldives’ tourism industry.