Minister of Tourism Dr Abdulla Mausoom revealed Thursday that tourist arrivals are projected to nosedive to only 725,000 tourists in 2021, compared to Maldives' record high of 1.7 million in 2019.
Speaking on a television programme broadcast on local channel SanguTV, the minister stated that the estimate was drawn up from research conducted by industry experts regarding the state budget for the next year.
Although he noted that both local and international veterans anticipate a sluggish pick up for the travel and hospitality field amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, he expressed personal hopes that Maldives could attract at least a million visitors in 2021.
Furthermore, he stated that Maldives' tourism would improve comparatively this year, highlighting that over 50 percent of tourist beds in the country are currently in operation.
However, several travel experts remain skeptical that numbers would increase significantly in light of the few airlines presently operating to the island nation.
Maldives reopened its borders to international passengers on July 15, after nearly four months since the state halted issuing on-arrival visas on March 27. Guesthouses were permitted to resume operations and kick start local tourism on October 15.
Despite the lifting of restrictions, Maldives has noted a significant reduction in tourist arrivals compared to pre-COVID figures. While a total of 382,760 tourists were recorded before Maldives closed borders in July, the daily average stood at 4,206 arrivals from January to March.
However, statistics indicate a gradual increase in visitors on a monthly basis. The latest figures by Maldives Immigration show that a total of 27,217 tourists arrived in Maldives between July 15 and October 15.
According to Immigration statistics, 8,350 holidaymakers visited Maldives within the first 15 days of October, representing a 56 percent increase compared to the same period in the previous month.
The Ministry of Tourism previously revealed that the daily average number of visitors increased from 117 in July to 246 in August, 318 in September and 628 in October.
Minister Mausoom had earlier also expressed hopes for the industry's recovery, estimating that 100,000 tourists would visit Maldives before the end of 2020.
The tourism ministry estimates a total of 500,000 arrivals for the year.