Millionth Tourist, Chinese Airline, Luxury Homes

Tuesday, July 18

The Maldives Inland Revenue Authority collected MVR1.6 billion (US$103.7 million) in June, down 31.7% from the same month last year after the collection of income tax, tourism land rent and goods and services tax was deferred to July. But tax receipts were well above forecasts due to an increment in corporate income tax, bank income tax and GST.

Tuesday, July 18

Monday, July 17

China’s Sichuan Airlines announced plans to commence direct flights to the Maldives in August, paving the way for boosting arrivals from the re-emerging top source market for tourists. 

The airline plans to operate three weekly flights from Chengdu to Malé’s Velana International Airport starting from 29 August. 

Local company Villa Travels will assist passengers upon their arrival, handling luggage, addressing inquiries and offering travel support as the Chinese airline’s ground handling agent. 

Earlier this month, China overtook Germany to become the fourth largest tourist market, nearly five months since Chinese tourists started returning after a nearly three-year hiatus. The first direct flight from China since early 2020 arrived on 18 January 2023, shortly after the country ended Covid-19 travel restrictions. 

The Maldives welcomed 80,769 Chinese tourists by 19 July, representing a market share of 7.6%.

Two Chinese carriers, Capital Airlines and China Eastern, currently operate direct flights to the Velana International Airport. Tourism Minister Dr Abdulla Mausoom told local media in May that the main obstacle to attracting more Chinese tourists was the lack of direct flights to the Maldives,. 

“Talks are underway for three connections, including Batik Air which is expected to begin flying from Malaysia in June,” he said. Jet Star will launch flights in November and the authorities hope that Korean Air would also resume flights, he added. The tourism minister expressed confidence in achieving the target of 100,000 Chinese tourists for 2023.

China was the single largest source market before the pandemic with 284,029 visitors in 2019, representing a 17% market share.

Monday, July 17

Urbanco took over a delayed housing project by the Jaah company in Hulhumalé. The flats were 91% complete and the rest of the work will be done by Urbanco, an official from the state-owned Hulhumalé developer told Adhadhu.

Sunday, July 16

The Maldives welcomed the one millionth tourist of the year in record time. British tourist Anton Pavlov arrived on a British Airways flight with his partner and child.

After  a welcome ceremony featuring cultural performances, he was presented with special gift packs with a collection of locally-sourced products.

Speaking to reporters at the airport, Tourism Minister Dr Abdulla Mausoom said that the government’s arrivals target for 2023 has been revised upwards from 1.8 million to 1.9 million tourists. The arrival of the millionth tourist coincided with the third anniversary of reopening borders during the Covid-19 pandemic in July 2020, he noted.

A total of 1,016,719 holidaymakers visited by 19 July, up 13.6% from the same period last year. India remains the top market with 119,405 tourists, followed by Russia (118,638), the United Kingdom (85,884), China (80,769) and Germany (70,065). With the exception of China, all the other top markets have exceeded pre-pandemic arrival figures. 

The one millionth tourist of 2022 was welcomed on 12 August.

Sunday, July 16

The Maldives Islamic Bank opened a new Business Centre in Malé. Located in Henveiru Marine Dream, the ground floor offers self-service banking for both Maldivian Rufiyaa and US dollars. The card distribution operation was also relocated to the new centre. 

“The top floor houses a dedicated business centre designed to provide customers a one stop station for deposit and financing services of business customers,” according to MIB.

Urbanco announced the auction of five plots of land from Hulhumalé for the development of luxury residential buildings. The five plots, measuring between 23,229 square feet to 25,660 square feet, are located near the Dhiraagu office and the ferry terminal in Hulhumalé phase one.

The buildings are to comprise of two- and three-bedroom apartments of 1,000 to 1,300 square feet targeting the high-end market. Amenities should include a fitness centre, swimming room, community room and children’s play area. The first three floors would be reserved for office space to be handed over to Urbanco.