Maldives welcomes Chinese flight, tourists with water cannon salute

Arriving Chinese tourists are welcomed at the Velana International Airport in the Maldives on Jan. 18, 2023. (Xinhua/Che Hongliang)

Chinese tourists, who had contributed a lot to the tourism market of the Maldives, are arriving again.

MALE, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) -- The Maldives has welcomed the first direct flight from China with a water cannon salute following the latter's recent optimization of COVID-19 strategy.

The Capital Airlines' flight with over 190 Chinese tourists aboard was received Wednesday by Chinese Ambassador Wang Lixin, Tourism Minister of the Maldives Abdulla Mausoom and other officials at the Velana International Airport.

As tourism is the pillar industry of the Maldives, the return of Chinese tourists will help economic recovery of the Maldives following the pandemic, and is also conducive to promoting cultural and people-to-people exchanges and enhancing bilateral ties, Wang said at the welcoming ceremony.

Wang said the Chinese embassy welcomes Chinese tourists to the Maldives, hoping that they will come happily, have fun and return safely.

Chinese tourists leave for the resort island by boat from the Velana International Airport on Jan. 18, 2023. (Xinhua/Che Hongliang)

Mausoom told Xinhua at the ceremony that the Maldives earlier forecast 1.8 million tourists for this year, and at least 10 percent increase is expected from the original forecast as Chinese tourists who had contributed a lot to the tourism market of the Maldives, are arriving again.

China had remained as the largest source of tourist arrivals in the Maldives for years before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2019, nearly 300,000 Chinese tourists visited the Maldives, accounting for around 17 percent of total tourist arrivals that year.

Editor: Gao Jingyan
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