Top News Maldives searches out of China doubles as visa waiver sets in By TTG Asia / Posted on 24 February, 2023 10:29 Major Chinese OTAs have reported a spike in the number of searches for the Maldives as soon as the Agreement on Mutual Visa Exemption with the resort destination came into effect last week. The agreement, signed between the two countries on January 2022, allows citizens of both to enter each other’s land for tourism purposes without a visa for stays of up to 30 days. Chinese travellers are swiftly booking up the Maldives as visa waiver comes into effect According to China’s Qunar, the number of searches for the Maldives increased by 126 per cent on February 17 – the very day the visa waiver came into effect – compared to the day before. A Qunar spokesperson also told Global Times that searches for hotels in North Male Atoll had tripled on the site, while reservations for February had doubled compared with the previous month. Search and reservation numbers are expected to continue to rise. Trip.com has also reported strong Chinese interest in the Maldives, with the visa waiver spurring a 50 per cent month-on-month increase in bookings for Maldives-related products as of February 6. China was the Maldives’ top source market pre-pandemic, contributing 300,000 visitors in 2019 – 17 per cent of the destination’s total visitorship. According to the Maldives Ministry of Tourism, the destination has welcomed 8,015 Chinese visitors since the start of this year and up till February 15. While not in pole position at this point, China remains within the country’s top 10 markets, occupying eighth spot.