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Maldives' tourism industry faces challenges as Chinese tourists decline

By Uditha (Xinhua)    13:20, February 26, 2015
Maldives (Photo/Xinhua)

COLOMBO, Feb. 26 -- Maldives's crucial tourism industry is facing challenging times as it grapples with declining Chinese tourist arrivals, the island nation's main source of tourism revenues.

Tourist arrivals to the Maldives declined by 7.8 percent in January compared to the same period last year, according to the Ministry of Tourism.

Arrivals stood at 97,073 visitors in the month, down from 105, 296 in January 2014, according to monthly statistics from the ministry.

"This was the fourth consecutive month where a negative growth was recorded in tourist arrivals to the country," the ministry said.

Consequently, hotel occupancy rate fell from 82.5 percent in January 2014 to 73.9 percent last month.

"However, the average duration of stay remained uniform at the January 2014 level of 6.5 days. This showed an increase from 6.1 days at the end of December 2014," the ministry noted.

Tourist arrivals also registered negative growth in November (- 5.1 percent) and December (-1.2 percent) last year on the back of a steep decline in arrivals from Russia and Western Europe as well as from Asia and Pacific countries.

Last month, industry insiders expressed concern that the Maldives could become an overpriced destination with the introduction of new taxes.

While the Tourism Goods and Services Tax was hiked from 8 to 12 percent in November 2014, the government announced that a 6-U.S.- dollar-per day "green tax" would be imposed on tourists from November 2015.

"The green tax will definitely have an impact. It is becoming too expensive to go to the top resorts because of all the service charges and taxes," Shafraz Fazley, managing director of Viluxur Holidays, told travel website TTG Asia.

In a phenomenon that caught many industry experts by surprise, the number of Chinese tourists visiting the Maldives tripled from about 100,000 in 2010 to more than 300,000 last year.


(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Yao Xinyu,Gao Yinan)

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