Top officials from Maldives and China gathered on Tuesday to seek ways on expanding tourism ties between the two countries in a bit to attract more Chinese tourists to the holiday destination.
At the Forum on China-Maldives Tourism Cooperation held at Kurumba Maldives resort, Maldives tourism minister Moosa Zameer said Chinese tourists had contributed immensely to the tourism industry of Maldives. China had been the top source market for the past few years, he added.
“This particular forum is an important step in our efforts to increase the number of Chinese tourists as well as to enhance the relationship between the two countries under the Belt and Road Initiative, which we aim to attract at least one million Chinese tourists per year in the coming five years,” the minister said.
“In addition, under the Belt and Road Initiative, Maldives now anticipate more Chinese investors to the country.”
Chinese ambassador in Maldives Zhang Lizhong said the was an important step to implement the consensus of the two countries and deepen the cooperation in various fields, including tourism.
Du Jiang from China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism said Chinese tourists see the Maldives as the first choice for vacation, family getaways and honeymoon.
He said the Chinese government is willing to deepen industrial cooperation with the Maldives in the spirit of mutual benefit, openness and inclusiveness. Policy, information and legal support for Chinese companies to invest in the Maldives tourism industry will also be provided, the official added.
At the forum, which was jointly organised by the tourism ministries of both the countries and the Chinese embassy in Male, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on mutual cooperation was also signed between the Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) and China Association of Travel Service.
China still remains the single biggest source market for the Maldives tourism industry, but arrivals have decreased significantly over the past three years.
According to the latest figures released by the Maldives tourism ministry, arrivals from China declined by 27.1 percent to reach 16,927 compared to the 23,225 in May 2017. This decline, which came after declines of 27.5 percent and 28 percent in March and April respectively and another 15.8 percent in January, offset the rare gain in arrival numbers from China in February and led to a 10.9 percent decline in arrivals from the Maldives’ single biggest source market for the January-May period.
As arrivals from China drop steadily, the Maldives has announced plans to step up marketing in China in order to increase the number of Chinese tourists to one million per year.