The Maldives Marketing & Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) hosted a vibrant celebration to commemorate the first direct flight from China to the Maldives since the pandemic. The flights were reinstated after almost a 3-year hiatus, following China’s international border closure due to the Covid-19 outbreak. The resumption of service was marked with the arrival of flight JD455 from Beijing Daxing International Airport carrying the first batch of Chinese tourists to the Maldives.
The inaugural flight was offered a water salute upon landing and passengers onboard were greeted with great spirits. The first delegation of tourists was welcomed warmly at Velana International Airport (VIA) on Wednesday with beats of traditional BoduBeru, roses and gift packs for each passenger. The ceremony was also joined by high-ranking Ministers, Ambassadors and other top-level executives from the Governments of Maldives and China.
Prior to the pandemic, the Chinese market consistently topped arrival charts in Maldives and was the highest top-source market to the destination. In 2019, Maldives saw the arrival of 284,029 visitors from the country, dominating the market with a 16.7% share. However, with the start of the pandemic, arrival numbers plummeted, recording only 34,245 arrivals in 2020 which declined further over the next two years.
Speaking on the historical occasion, the CEO & MD of MMPRC, Thoyyib Mohamed commented “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 travellers topping our arrival charts again.”
Despite the difficulties posed by the border closure, MMPRC continued to conduct destination marketing activities for the Chinese market over the past three years. In 2020, 14 targeted activities were carried out while in 2021, 8 activities were conducted with a total reach of 10.2 million. In 2022, 5 activities were executed in the market with an outreach of 14.7 million keeping the Maldives as a top-of-the-mind destination for travellers once borders were reopened.
MMPRC has multiple exciting activities planned for this market this year, including e-learning campaigns and digital campaigns with top Chinese apps like Metiuan and Ele.me. Outdoor marketing campaigns, joint promotional campaigns, social media campaigns and familiarization trips are also in the pipeline for China together with participation in fairs and exhibitions.