The Maldives rolled out a grand welcome for the historic arrival of the 1.5 millionth tourist to the archipelago on Sunday.
This marks the first instance Maldives records 1.5 million arrivals within a year.
Marina Kazakova of Russia was greeted warmly by tourism industry officials upon arrival at Velana International Airport (VIA). She was presented with a sash, garland, bouquet, and a vacation package at Mirihi Island Resort, including return tickets. She was also honoured and escorted through VIA with traditional performances.
Speaking to the press at the airport VIP lounge, Kazakova, accompanied by her husband, described the unexpected surprise as her "lucky seventh" trip to Maldives.
"This is the best destination for a holiday", said a smiling Kazakova, who first visited the country in 2014 during which she had her first dive experience.
Secretary General of Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI), Ahmed Nazeer, who was the chief guest at the ceremony, declared that the arrival of 1.5 million visitors marked the great progress achieved by the Maldivian tourism sector.
"We're already witnessing the benefits of increasing the budget [for tourism promotion]. Marketing and advertising Maldives plays a vital role in advancing tourism", he stated.
Managing Director of Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation, Thoyyib Mohamed, declared that tourist arrivals are projected to reach 1.67 million by the end of the year.