Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Why China matters

We at Maldives achieved a major milestone in 2013 when we recorded more than one million tourists by the end of the year. The world achieved the one billion mark in 2012 when it recorded more than a billion tourists crossing international borders for the first time, from 995 million in 2011. According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), international tourism receipts reached more than one trillions US dollars in 2012, when it recorded US$ 1,075 billion worldwide. In 2012, China became the number one source market in the world, and recorded a total spending of US$ 102 billion on international tourism.

In 2013, China outbound tourists reached 97.3 million from 83.1 million in 2012. How much are we able to attract from this? Less than 1%. In fact, in 2012 we recorded 229,551tourists from China visiting Maldives, which is 0.28% of the total Chinese who traveled abroad during the year. In 2013 we attracted 331,719 visitors from China, which is only 0.34% of the total. So, even if we are able to attract 1%, we are looking at about a million tourists from China. The question is can we get there?

Looking at the arrival statistics of China tourists into Maldives, we had only 41,511 tourists from China in 2008, however, we had a 46% growth in 2009, and a 96% growth in 2010 when we recorded 118,961 by the end of 2010. Now China has become our number one source market, overtaking the European markets. A Maldivian airline, Mega Maldives Air played a key role in this development. An estimated 35% of the total Chinese arrivals are contributed by Mega, and in 2013 it is estimated that more than 95,000 Chinese visited Maldives via Mega Air. The state owned airline ‘Maldivian’, operated by Island Aviation, has also started flights to China, in addition to the Chinese local airlines like the ‘China Eastern’.

Well, I guess the point that I’m trying to make; as we talk about Chinese tourists, since China is expected to grow, we need to make further adjustments and come up with innovative plans to increase our share, to at least double the arrivals from China, and target to achieve at least one million from China by specified time period. That way, will be able to double our earnings from tourism.