Surge in Chinese arrivals just a passing fad, cautions MATI

China has eclipsed the traditional European tourism markets of the Maldives to become the highest contributor of tourist arrivals to the country, but that gain is unlikely to last, says the Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI).

Figures from the Ministry of Tourism indicate that that 15.3 percent of all arrivals this year originated from China – a staggering growth rate of 137 percent compared to the first eight months of 2009.

UK arrivals, traditionally the Maldives’ greatest market, sits at 14.9 percent followed by Italy at 12.6 percent. Average length of stay has dropped to 7.7 days, compared to the same period 8.1 last year.

Secretary General of MATI, Sim Mohamed Ibrahim, told Minivan News that Chinese tourists regarded the Maldives as a “novelty” destination, and that the growth would not last.

“The Chinese can swamp a destination in terms of numbers, but this is not the tourism the Maldives is about. Our product attracts sunseekers – Europeans,” he said.

“The Chinese who come do not come for the sun and the beach – they come because the Maldives is a novelty, a safe destination, and because of their new-found freedom to travel. Resorts are saying there are not many repeat visitors from China.”


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