Male’ Maldives, 19th January 2023 – MMPRC / Visit Maldives held a ceremony yesterday to mark the happy occasion of the return of direct flights from China to Maldives since 2020. The ceremony was held at Velana International Airport (VIA) with the arrival of flight JD455 from Beijing Daxing International Airport (PKX) carrying Chinese tourists to the Maldives. This is the first time visitors from China have been able to fly directly to the Maldives following the border closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The passengers of the inbound flight were greeted with traditional bodu beru (big drum), and a special gift pack along with flowers. The event was attended by high-level delegates, including the Minister of Tourism Dr. Abdulla Mausoom, the Ambassador of China Wang Lixin and other high-level executives from the government of the Maldives and China.

Photo Credits | MMPRC / Visit Maldives

Speaking on this momentous occasion, the CEO & MD of MMPRC / Visit Maldives, Mr. Thoyyib Mohamed, stated that the event marked a bright beginning in a new chapter in welcoming outbound tourists from China.

“We are extremely pleased to be welcoming flights from China to the Maldives again. China had been our key source market for some years prior to the onset of the pandemic, and we are looking forward to Chinese travelers topping our arrival charts again,” said Mr. Thoyyib.

He stated that even during the most difficult times at the height of the global pandemic, MMPRC had continued to conduct destination marketing activities for the Chinese market, including a total of 14 activities targeting them in 2020. In 2021, 8 activities targeting the Chinese market were conducted, with a total reach of 10.2 million in 2021. Furthermore, 5 activities were conducted in 2022, with a reach of 14.7 million in the Chinese market. These were conducted with the aim of keeping the destination on top of Chinese travelers’ minds when borders reopened.

The Minister of Tourism, Dr. Abdulla Mausoom expressed hope for yet another successful year for tourism following the first direct flight from China in three years. Speaking to the media yesterday at VIA, the Minister said he is optimistic of China being in the top 5 markets by the end of the year 2023.  

Similarly, the Ambassador of China Wang Lixin stated that the Chinese embassy welcomes Chinese tourists to the Maldives, hoping that they will come happily, have fun and return safely.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid shared his delight in welcoming back Chinese tourists to the Maldives again after a long absence of almost three years. “We have been eagerly anticipating this day, and working closely with authorities in both Maldives and China to make this happened.”

Photo Credits | MMPRC / Visit Maldives

The Chinese market had consistently topped the arrival charts to the Maldives prior to the closure of international borders due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, China was the top source market with 284,029 arrivals (16.7%). This number fell greatly in 2020, to 34,245 arrivals (6.2%), putting China at 6th place. Their market presence completely diminished in the following two years. With the return of flights from China, the government is confident that arrival numbers from China will go up this year and they will top the market once more. After three years, Maldives is anticipating a wave of Chinese travelers for the upcoming Chinese New Year.

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