China becomes Maldives’ largest source of tourists- Dr. Zulfa

Friday, May 13th, 2011

The Maldives received 120,000 Chinese tourists in 2010, representing an increase of 96 percent from a year earlier and marking that China has become its largest source country of foreign tourists for the first time, Dr. Mariyam Zulfa, Maldives’ minister of Tourism Arts and Culture, said in an interview with Xinhua News Agency on May 11.

The Maldives is an island country in the Indian Ocean and is a leisure resort that used to receive mostly Western tourists, but it has received a fast-growing number of Chinese tourists over recent years.

Data from the Maldives Ministry of Tourism Arts and Culture shows that the number of Chinese tourists to the Maldives accounted for 15 percent of the total international tourists to the country in 2010, ranking first among all countries and followed by the United Kingdom with 114,000 tourists, Italy, Germany and France.

Dr. Zulfa said that Chinese tourists to the Maldives are expected to set a new high in 2011. The Maldives received 39,000 Chinese tourists in the first quarter, an increase of 53 percent from the same period of 2010.

The Maldives’ Ministry of Tourism Arts and Culture believes that the primary cause behind the rapid rise in Chinese tourist arrivals is that China’s fast economic development has made its people richer. Furthermore, other major factors include unique sand beaches, visa-free access and a variety of water sports. The country’s tourism department is further expanding the Chinese market and plans to launch non-stop flights between the Maldives and China’s inland cities.

Meanwhile, last month China opened a new gateway to promote the Maldives by opening a Maldives Travel Service Centre in Dongguan City, China. The Centre was officially launched by Ahmed Latheef, Ambassador of the Republic of Maldives to the People’s Republic of China.

The Maldives Centre established by Dongguan Youth Travel Services Company Ltd. is a permanent Centre that will provide Chinese tourists with travel information about the Maldives and assist in their travel.

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