By the end of February, Maldives has recorded 251,339 tourist arrivals showing 46.9% growth compared to the same period last year. On 12th February, Maldives set a new daily record, the highest number of tourist arrivals on a single day with 7,668 tourist arrivals since borders reopened in 2020. As we transitioned from January to February, the stay duration has decreased from 9 days to 8.8 days as of February 23rd.
Despite the political conflicts in Russia, Russia has continued to remain the top source market since the 1st of January till 23rd February, with a total of 15.8 % market capacity. Although the Russian Market Share dipped 3% in February compared to January. Following Russia is the United Kingdom in the second position, with an 11.4% market share. The third-ranking is India, with a surprising 8.8% market share as India dominated the source market for all of 2021. Following India, there are Germany, Italy, France, United States, Ukraine, Austria, and Switzerland respectively. By the end of 2021, 35,073 tourists arrived in Maldives from Ukraine. Between January to 23rd February, 7,818 arrivals from Ukraine were noted.
The ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine will affect the country’s tourism adversely as tourists from Russia and Ukraine compromise 18.9% of the Maldives source market. The Maldives Tourism is heavily reliant on tourism, which contributes roughly 76% to its gross domestic product (GDP). Russia has closed some of its airspaces to offer safety to civil aviation flights, while Ukraine shut down for air traffic. With flights canceled, air space shut down in the two countries, tourism has come to a halt due to the conflict.
The Maldives Immigration is to grant Special Visa to the Ukrainian tourists who plan to stay in the Maldives for an extended period of time, due to the ongoing situation in the country. As such, Ukrainian tourists shall apply for the visa extension via the IMUGA portal of Maldives Immigration, before the expiry of the visa granted on arrival. Application for Permit Extension (IM23), copy of passport data page digital photo of the applicant which complies to the Visa Photo Standard of Maldives Immigration, copy of the Operating License issued by the Ministry of Tourism to the tourist facility sponsoring the applicant, and the payment invoice if the applicant is staying in a tourist guesthouse is needed for the visa extending application.
Speaking to Sun Media, Tourism Minister Dr. Abdulla Mausoom stated that the geopolitical tension between Russia and Ukraine will drastically impact the tourism sector in the Maldives. “With changes to the Russian financial situation, the value of their currency has significantly dropped. Therefore, it will be very expensive for a person who wishes to travel to the Maldives,” Dr. Mausoom was quoted as saying by Sun Media. Dr. Mausoom noted that it is unclear when the Chinese borders will be open. However, Minister Mausoom expects to see Chinese travelers sometime this year.