After welcoming a record-breaking 1.7 million tourist arrivals in the Maldives, the popular tourist destination targeted for 2 million arrivals in 2020. However, due to the global pandemic that significantly affected international tourism, the government now expects to see 850,000 tourist arrivals this year. Will the island nation be able to achieve this target?
According to an expert in the tourism industry, considering the current situation of the Maldives and other countries, it is extremely unlikely that the Maldives will be able to achieve the target. The COVID19 cases in the Maldives, like many other countries, shows an upward trend. “There are many countries that still haven’t reopened the borders. I don’t believe that the Maldives will be able to achieve the target.”
As per the latest updates by Health Protection Agency on 5th August, the total number of confirmed cases has passed 4500 and deaths have reached 19. The country’s statistics started deteriorating after it removed the lockdown and allowed businesses such as restaurants to restart operations. However, the government has started to monitor businesses that do not follow safety guidelines.
The top markets of Maldives’ tourism are also facing a hard time combatting the pandemic. In fact, India, which was the fastest-growing source market for Maldives tourism in 2019 according to the tourism ministry, has the 3rd most COVID-19 cases in the world. Some of the top markets of Maldives, United Kingdom, United States and UAE is included in the world’s top 40 countries with highest COVID-19 cases.
The Maldives sees a peak season during December. Tourist arrivals are highest during the year in this period. However, Mohamed Imthiyas, Acting President of Guesthouse Association Maldives says that depending on the high-end season for arrivals will not be enough to reach the target. “Considering the number of resorts opened in the Maldives currently and tourist arrivals, the resorts hardly welcome 2 guests daily.”
After border reopening on 15th July, the Maldives has welcomed a total of 1769 tourists to the country within 17 days. Many tourists say that they feel safe due to the one island one resort concept in the Maldives and the various safety protocols implemented by the resorts. However, to reach the target of 850,000, the destination needs to see a monthly arrival of over 70,000 tourists.
Mario Attayanake, Director of Sales at Taj Resorts & Spa Maldives stated that the number does not seem achievable, considering the number of flights coming in and the current situation. “That’s around 105,500 tourists in 5 months. It’s unlikely to achieve the target.”