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Maldives celebrates 50 years of tourism, a sector undermined in the past

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Fifty years ago, an Italian travel enthusiast, George Corbin visited the Maldives after crossing many hurdles. Some believed the little nation in the Indian Ocean was not worth visiting and though his colleagues and friends advised against it, Corbin took a chance. Today, the Maldives is marking the golden jubilee of an industry people believed would not have flourished all those years ago.

Not knowing how to travel to the Maldives, Corbin visited the closest embassy, the Maldives Embassy in Sri Lanka, where he was introduced to the then junior employee at the embassy, the current Minister of Health Ahmed Naseem. Since there were no air connections, Naseem and Corbin travelled to the Maldives on a cargo ship.

The arrival of Corbin marked the beginning of tourism in the Maldives. Reminiscing on the beginnings of tourism, a key pioneer of tourism in the Maldives, Mohamed Umar Manik said that meeting Corbin made him realise that the Maldives is a place where tourism can be developed. At that time, Corbin was seeking uninhabited islands where he could bring Italians to swim and fish. He said the enthusiasm and faith of Corbin gave encouragement to himself, Naseem, and Hussain Afeef.

Manik recalled not having any services such as banks, airports, or telephones back in the day, adding that only hand radios or Morse code were used to contact Colombo, Sri Lanka. He said many people did not believe that tourism could be expanded in the Maldives due to the natural formation and the lack of development of resources. Even experts from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said that tourism would never succeed because there were no facilities and no infrastructure, he added.

Meanwhile, Cobin returned home and the first group of tourists arrived on February 16, 1972, under the leadership of Umar Manik, Afeef and Naseem. The group of tourists arrived from Milan, Italy chartering a flight from Air Ceylon. A total of 22 tourists arrived on the maiden trip. They came and stayed at Maagiri, Lux Hood and Kaneeru Villa. They stayed in the Maldives for 12 days.

When the first group of tourists arrived in the Maldives, Naseem was abroad on a government trip. However, Naseem described the situation in which they had to serve tourists. He said that Afeef with others ran from one house to the other serving the tourists, taking cutlery from one house to the other when one team is finished, adding the courage they showed back in the day is an incomparable example.

The first group of tourists included some Italian journalists. They went back home and wrote about their experiences in the newspapers which is how most people came to know of the Maldives. After the trip, discussions to develop a resort in the Maldives commenced.

Speaking on a programme aired on PSM News, Mohamed Moosa said many challenges were faced by the industry over the years. He said he used to supply vegetables and other products to the resorts for Afeef.

When the first group of tourists arrived in the Maldives, Afeef said there were no modern facilities. However, they loved the experience which ensured the trust of foreign investors in the Maldives. The first resort in the country opened on October 3, 1972, in Vihamanaafushi, as Kurumba Village or Kurumba Maldives as it is known now. Kurumba Maldives is a 30-room resort with a bed capacity of 60.

Today, 50 years later, the Maldives has 170 resorts, 866 hotels and guesthouses, and 154 liveaboards registered in the Maldives which brings the total bed capacity to 59,601. Today, the Maldives is known to everyone and tourism has flourished with the passion, determination and hard work of its young and energetic Maldivian founders. Just as Corbin fell in love with the palm trees, turquoise sea and white sandy beaches, the Maldives has made it to the bucket list of everyone

Corbin said the Maldives are world known and among the best destinations, getting visitors of different nationalities and regions, thus being a very safe haven.

 

Source: psmnews

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Maldives mark a significant increase in Chinese arrivals

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The Ministry of Tourism has disclosed that the Maldives has welcomed over 50,000 tourist arrivals from Chinaso far this year.

A total of 378,245 tourists visited the Maldives as of February 24, representing a notable increase of 16.2% compared to the 325,423 arrivals during the same period last year, according to the latest statistics released by the tourism ministry.

China led in the number of tourists visiting the Maldives, with 51,984 arrivals, followed by Russia with 36,423 tourists, Italy with 35,834 tourists, the United Kingdom (UK) with 33,401 tourists, and India with 25,096 tourists. The statistics also indicated that the Maldives is currently witnessing an average of 7,744 tourist arrivals daily, with tourists spending an average of 7 days on holiday.

Furthermore, a record number of tourists arrived in the Maldives on February 10, with 10,213 arrivals recorded on that day.

While the government’s target is to attract 2 million tourists this year, the tourism ministry anticipates the actual number of tourists will surpass this target and reach approximately 2.3 million.

Source(s): PsmNews

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Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Wang Lixin at the 2024 “Happy Chinese New Year” Cultural Performance

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Honorable Mrs. Sajidha Mohamed, First Lady of the Republic of Maldives,

Honorable Mr. Ahmed Munaz, State Minister of Youth Empowerment, Information and Arts,

Honorable Ministers, MPs, party leaders,

Your Excellencies, Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,

Very good evening.

First of all, I’d like to extend a warm welcome to all of you gathering here tonight for the “Happy Chinese New Year” Cultural Performance, celebrating the Chinese New Year of the Dragon. In particular, I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to the First Lady Honorable Mrs. Sajidha Mohamed for gracing this occasion as Guest of Honor.

The Spring Festival, a happy time for family reunion, is China’s most important traditional festival. Its cultural significance has gone beyond borders. It has now become a celebrated holiday in many countries. In December 2023, the United Nations officially listed Spring Festival as a UN holiday, highlighting its global resonance. The Spring Festival of the Year of the Dragon offers the world a window on China’s economic vibrancy. During the just-ended 8-day Spring Festival holiday, China’s domestic tourism market saw 474 million trips, marking a 19 percent increase comparing with the same period in 2019. China’s domestic tourism spending hit 632.6 billion yuan, up by 7.7 percent from the same holiday period in 2019. China’s box office revenue in the 8-day holiday totaled 8 billion yuan, marking a new record high. Meanwhile, China saw around 13.52 million inbound and outbound trips during the holiday, marking a 3-fold increase from the same holiday period last year. The booming outbound travel also brought dividends of the holiday consumption and joy of the Lunar New Year to the world, including Maldives. A large number of Chinese tourists have come here for Spring Festival holidays.

As we embark on the Year of the Dragon, symbolizing auspiciousness, wisdom and strength, I’d like to extend my sincere wishes for happiness, prosperity and good fortune to all of you.

The year 2023 has witnessed continuous progress and fruitful outcomes in China-Maldives relations. H.E. State Councilor Shen Yiqin, special envoy of President Xi Jinping, attended the inauguration ceremony of President Muizzu and visited the Maldives, opening a new chapter in China-Maldives relations. At the invitation of President Xi Jinping, President Muizzu paid a successful state visit to China early last month. The two heads of state announced the elevation of bilateral ties to a comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership, providing strategic guidance and drawing a grand blueprint for future development of China-Maldives relations.

Over the past year, Our two nations have maintained close high-level exchanges, fostered ever-enhancing political mutual trust, achieved steady and sustained progress in high-quality BRI cooperation, and conducted vibrant cooperation on local government and people-to-people exchanges. In particular, with the gradual opening and resumption of direct flights between China and the Maldives, China has re-established its position as one of the leading source markets of tourists. Friendly cooperation between China and the Maldives is ushering in broad prospects, and we have full confidence in the bright future of our bilateral relations.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear friends,

Culture, as a vital bridge of friendship between our two peoples, plays a pivotal role in sustaining and enhancing China-Maldives relations. The cultural performance tonight will offer you a glimpse of the richness and diversity of Chinese culture, foster greater appreciation and understanding of China’s cultural heritage and modern dynamism.

I would like to take this opportunity to express sincere thanks to the cultural troupe from Chongqing, a beautiful and municipal city of China, which is also famous for hot pot. Carrying forward excellent traditional Chinese culture, their performance will definitely sow the seeds for China-Maldives friendship, make positive contribution to promoting cultural exchanges and enhance people-to-people friendship between our two countries.

My heartfelt thanks also go to Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Information, and Arts and National Center for Arts for their strong support to make this show happen. Meanwhile, my thanks go to the Maldivian artists who will join the performance and make it more colorful. I believe that the artists from China and the Maldives will jointly present a culture feast to us.

In conclusion, I wish the “Happy Chinese New Year” Cultural Performance a complete success and the friendship between China and the Maldives grow stronger and stronger.

Thank you!

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Over 7,000 daily tourists visit on average in Maldives

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Ministry of Tourism has revealed that more than 7,000 tourist arrivals visit the Maldives daily.

The latest statistics published by the tourism ministry show that a total of 326,424 tourists had visited as of February 17, marking a 16.9% increase compared to the same period last year, when 279,223 arrivals were recorded. In January, 192,385 tourists visited and from February 1-17, 134,039 tourists arrived.

The statistics also reveal that China contributed the most tourists with 47,185 arrivals, followed by Italy with 31,039, Russia with 30,927, the United Kingdom with 28,858, and India with 22,555. Currently, there are 1,153 tourist establishments operating in the Maldives, providing a total of 61,611 beds.

The government’s target is to attract two million tourists this year, but the ministry anticipates that the actual number of tourists will reach 2.3 million.

Source(s): PsmNews

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