February arrivals up for the Maldives despite state of emergency

Cancellations reported in February but impact expected to be felt in ensuing months, some resorts say

Tourist arrivals to the Maldives last month rose by 19 per cent against February 2017, in spite of the spate of travel advisories issued during a 45-day state of emergency reportedly due to end tomorrow.

Data released last week show that 144,286 tourists visited in February, up 19.2 per cent from the same month last year. China, the country’s biggest source market, recorded a 38.1 per cent surge from the same 2017 period, in part due to the Chinese New Year, which fell in February this year.

Cancellations reported in February but impact expected to be felt in ensuing months, some resorts say

According to Abdulla Ghiyas, president of the Maldivian Association for Travel Agents and Tour Operators, while the arrivals for February didn’t register any drop, cancellations and declining enquiries for subsequent months are cause for concern.

“We need to look at March data too. I think April to June will be difficult months,” he said, adding that refusal by resorts to refund may have also mitigated declines in February.

Although some resorts are seeing slightly better demand than last year for the months ahead, hoteliers are expecting to fall significantly short of targets set for this quarter.

On the other hand, Ahmed Karam, president of the GuestHouse Association of Maldives, said guesthouses reported a 25-30 per cent drop in occupancy in February, which could be due to the 1,800 beds added from February 2017 to February 2018 to reach 7,000.

Other top markets that also recorded year-on-year increases in February include Italy (+24.5 per cent), the UK (+9.3 per cent), Germany (+10 per cent), France (+18.8 per cent) and Russia (+36 per cent).

Due to a political crisis, the Maldives enforced a state of emergency on February 5. The UK, Germany, the US, the UAE and Canada issued travel advisories while China later relaxed its travel advisory saying nationals should avoid visiting the capital Male, where there have been nightly protests by opposition parties.

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