A total of 255,867 tourist arrivals were registered from January to March 2012. This is an increase of 3.3 percent compared to the same period in 2011.
Central and Eastern Europe recorded a growth of 15.7 percent, Western Europe registered 10 percent, East Mediterranean Europe recorded 30.6 percent, North East Asia 12.8 percent, South East Asia 12.1 percent, Oceania 26.2 percent, Americas 8.8 percent, and Middle East 77.8 percent. However, Southern Europe the centre of European Economic crisis recorded a negative growth of - 24.9 percent. Northern Europe also recorded -9.2 percent mainly due to economic recession in the UK.
Market specific situation analysis
26,355 arrivals were registered form Germany for the first quarter of 2012. This is a 20.4 percent positive growth compared to the same period in 2011. With these favorable figures, Germany ranks the third largest market to the Maldives with a market share of 10.3 percent.
The reasons for the increase in arrivals are the strong economic conditions in Germany together with the increase in frequency of flights between the two countries.
11,803 arrivals were registered form Switzerland in the first quarter of 2012. This is a 24.5 percent growth compared to the same period in 2011. The reasons for increase in arrivals from Switzerland are due to its healthy economy and easy connectivity and direct flights from Zurich.
The total arrival from China market for the period January to March is 46,662 which is a 16.4% growth. Although there is a positive growth in the overall arrivals, the number of tourists who visited the Maldives decreased in February and March due to cancellation of charter flights.
The Chinese market is expected to perform well in the upcoming months due to resuming of charter airlines with more frequency and flights from additional cities and strong demand for Maldives. The tour operators’ forecast indicates a phenomenal growth in June and July.
Recent road shows in five major Cities in China have built visitor and investor confidence in the Maldives. Chinese market is expected to remain by far the largest source market for Maldives.
The first quarter of 2012, the Russian Market registered a total of 19,919 arrivals with a positive growth of 19.7% contributing to 7.8% to the market share.
Russian market remains unaffected despite the recession in Europe. Eastern European region remains the most important emerging market for Maldives. Maldives took part in MITT Russia fair in March 2012. Russian Market is expected to perform well in the coming months.
The total arrival from South Korea market for the period January to March is 4,329 is a 21.7% growth. South Korea Market is expected to perform extremely well this year. There is possibility of direct flights from South Korea to Maldives which would further boost the market.
Maldives representation at Korean Expo 2012 to be held in Yeosu and KOTFA Fair to be held in Seoul is likely energize the Korean market.
For the first quarter of 2012, Maldives had a total of 25,195 arrivals from France, which is a reduction of -1.3% compared to the same period in 2011. French market contributes a total of 9.8% to the total market share. France is second most important market in Western Europe after Germany.
The slight reduction in the French market is due to the European economic crisis and being the presidential election year in France. Despite the slight reduction, the French market is an important market which has the potential to record a positive growth end of the year.
When comparing the arrivals figures for the past five years, UK registered the highest arrival figures in 2008 accounting for 116,821 visitors. In 2009, the figure dropped to 105,950 and in 2010 there was a slight increase to 114,158 again a reduction in 2011 accounting for 104,508 visitors.
Due to economic recession in the UK, the total arrivals from UK market for the first quarter of 2012 registered 24,395 which is a 12% decrease. The British market will continue to experience declines to 2015 largely because of the economic recession. UK economy enters recession after contracting for second consecutive quarter. GDP fell by 0.2% in first quarter of 2012.
According to UNWTO, UK (Longhaul) outbound market is expected to contract in 2012.
In the first quarter of 2012 Italy recorded a total of 26,939 visitors to Maldives which accounts for 10.5 percent of market share. The Italian market is the hardest hit market for Maldives due to economic crisis in Italy. The decline in arrival figure is also due to closure of club style resorts in Maldives. It is also linked to bankruptcy of major tour operators in Italy.
Italian market is not expected to perform well this year. Strict fiscal policies of Italian government also discourage longhaul outbound tourism.
The total arrivals from Japan for the first quarter of 2012 are 8,114 which is 5 percent decline. Japan market has been a stagnant market for the past 5 years. 2011 earthquake and the tsunami in Japan is a major factor of the decrease in arrivals to Maldives.
In order to increase arrivals from Japan it is vital that we re-strategize market segmentation and product adaptation.
During the first quarter of 2012 Maldives recorded a total of 6,179 arrivals from India, which is a 10.4% decline compared to same period of 2011. India contributes 2.4% of the total market share of the Maldives tourism.
The reason for the market decline in India is financial difficulties faced by some of the airlines. Limited air connectivity between major Indian cities and Maldives is also hindering factor in growth of Indian market. However, it is expected Indian market will perform favorably in the up coming months.
7,152 arrivals were registered form Austria from January-March 2012. This is an 11.4 percent growth compared to the same period in 2011. Although Austria is a small market, with its favorable economic conditions and high percentage of the population with disposable income and propensity to travel, the market has maintained a positive growth.
South East Asia
In terms of population the main countries in the region are Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. 4,515 arrivals were registered between January to March 2012. This is a 12.1 percent increase to the same period in 2011. South East Asian market shares 1.8 percent of the total arrivals to the Maldives.
USA is a huge market that needs to be tapped into with the right strategy. Many of the obstacles that have been faced include the distance and lack of direct and convenient routes topped with the lack of marketing budget to launch an aggressive campaign to penetrate to this market.
Despite the obstacles, 3,566 arrivals were registered from the USA from January to March. This is a 6.6 percent increase compared to the same period in 2011. Much interest has been generated amongst the Americans with the emerging trend in live aboard cruises in the Maldives.
The first quarter of 2012 Maldives attracted a total of 4,344 arrivals from Middle East market which recorded an unparalleled growth of 77.8% compared to the same period last year. In particular it is important to note the exceptional growth from the Saudi Arabian market.
The opening of Middle Eastern based hotel chains in Maldives is a contributing factor for the positive growth. Middle East remains as 1.7% of the total market share.
Spain and Portugal
The first quarter of 2012 Maldives attracted 1219 and 609 from Spain and Portugal respectively. A decrease in outbound travel from Spain has been observed by 1.33% compared to the same period in 2010. Historically these two markets have been relatively small markets for Maldives.
The total arrival from South Africa market for the period January to March is 576 is a 21.2% decrease. South Africa is a potential market with better air connectivity.
The total arrival from Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden market for the period January to March is 1,237, 596, 800, 1,866 respectively. Denmark and Norway showed a positive growth where as there is decline in Finland and Sweden market. Scandinavian economies are recovering their former level of economic growth and are expected to maintain sound growth in coming years.
The main obstacle for the market growth is the limited air connectivity. With better air connectivity these are potential markets to the Maldives.
Easter Mediterranean Europe
The total arrivals from Israel recorded 713 during the first quarter of 2012 which is a growth of 61.7% compared to same period last year. Turkey also recorded a positive growth of 20% accounting for 1,088 visitors to Maldives.
The reason for the growth in Turkish market is the opening of Turkey owned resort in Maldives. Turkey also remains an extremely potential market with better air connectivity. Charter operations are expected from Turkey during the year which would contribute to the positive growth.
Maldives has a target of attracting 1 million tourists during 2012. A strategic digital and social media campaign is in place. Road shows and other strategic marketing activities are been planned for the year ahead. Maldives Marketing & PR Corporation has a policy to carry out joint promotions and marketing campaigns with airlines, tour operators and other stakeholders.