The Edition


Maldives abandons hope of reaching 1.5 million tourist target

Mohamed Visham
28 September 2016, MVT 16:59
Tourists warmly welcomed with souvenirs on the occasion of World Tourism Day at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport. PHOTO: NISHAN ALI/MIHAARU
Mohamed Visham
28 September 2016, MVT 16:59

Maldives government on Wednesday officially abandoned hope of reaching the target of 1.5 million tourists blaming the opposition for the declining tourism in the archipelago.

Tourism minister Moosa Zameer said the government has now been forced to revise the target 1.4 million--the same as last year.

According to the minister the continuous efforts of the opposition to tarnish the image of the country was the primary reason behind the failure.

The opposition has also portrayed Maldives as prone to a terrorist attack which has deeply affected tourist arrivals, Zameer alleged.

He further downplayed the effects of the recently released Al Jazeera documentary which exposed mass corruption, abuse of power and international money laundering on the country's tourism.

Zameer also admitted that the opposition's anti-government campaigns abroad had forced the government to enhance tourism promotion budgets and employ global PR companies to repair the damage.

The minister said global events in the middle east and Europe had also adversely effected travel throughout the world.

Maldives achieved its one million tourist target in 2013 and had continued to improve on the figure with 1.2 million in 2014 and 1.4 million last year.

The government had declared 2016 as 'Visit Maldives Year' late last year and announced the ambitious target of reaching 1.5 million tourists.

Maldives had celebrated the arrival of the 750,000th tourist to the Maldives last month despite question marks over the authenticity of the figure.

China is the largest market for the Maldives’ tourism industry. However, the number of visitors from the Asian giant has been on a decline recently with only 36,456 tourists from China last July which was a decrease of 12.2 percent from the previous year.

In an effort to increase the number of Chinese tourists to the archipelago, Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) are currently participating in a tourism expo in China’s Sichuan Province to promote the Maldives. The corporation had stated that they chose Sichuan, a province where the Maldives had not promoted before, in order to expand the Chinese market.