Maldivian Tourism Minister takes up fall in tourist arrivals with Chinese envoy

Maldivian Tourism Minister takes up fall in tourist arrivals with Chinese envoy

Male, February 15 ( Maldivian Tourism Minister Moosa Zameer met Chinese Ambassador  Zhang Lizhong last Sunday to discuss the declining number of tourists from China after the Maldivian government declared a State of Emergency on February 5.

The Maldives Marketing and Public and Relations (MMPRC) said in a tweet that discussions were about the potential impact of the recent decline in Chinese arrivals. The tourism ministry did not share details of the discussions.

After China had advised their tourists against travelling to Maldives many guests canceled their booking to resorts, guest houses and safaris.

Arrivals from China decreased 8.2 percent in the last months of 2017 compared to the same period of last year.

The Chinese New Year begins on Thursday when millions of Chinese travel at home and overseas during a week-long holiday. A tour operator told Reuters that the big worry is that travelers will stop bookings going into March.

Ctrip.Com International Ltd, China’s biggest online travel agency, said it was coordinating with hotels and airlines and helping guests who wished to postpone or cancel trips to the Maldives before Feb. 28.

A spokeswoman declined to say how many cancellations or postponements there had been.

Shanghai’s state-run Xinmin Evening News said last week about 3,000 people from Shanghai had been expected to visit the Maldives over the holiday, and that in recent years more than 300,000 Chinese visited the country annually.

Airlines have not yet canceled flights but carriers including Air India [AIN.UL], India’s SpiceJet, China Eastern Airlines. and China Southern Airlines have allowed customers to cancel or change their tickets at no cost during specific dates during February.

The Chinese airlines also echoed Beijing’s warnings about visiting Maldives.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Wednesday China had sent security reminders regarding the situation in the Maldives.

“According to my knowledge, relevant Chinese departments are actively giving guidance to Chinese citizens to pay high attention to the security risks in traveling to the Maldives and appropriately plan their itineraries.”

After years of double-digit growth in tourism, the Maldives has over the recent years observed a slowdown in growth.

The government has set an ambitious target of attracting 1.5 million tourists by the end of this year, but the country has been struggling to create demand amidst a significant increase in bed capacity.