The number of arrivals to the Maldives continues to rise, we asked Abdulla Ziyath, Managing Director, Maldives Marketing & PR Corp, where most new arrivals are coming from.
The total number of arrival to Maldives until July 2015 is 713,622 which is 4.3% growth compared to the same period last year. Scandinavian countries have shown a huge growth compared to the previous year.
The other countries which have shown an increase in the number of arrivals and potential are Romania, Bulgaria and Slovakia from the Central and Eastern European countries; Netherlands from the Western European countries; Turkey from East Mediterranean countries; Taiwan from North East Asia; Philippines from South East Asia; Brazil and USA from the Americas and Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Qatar from Middle East.
How is tourism evolving as part of your national economy?
Tourism is the largest industry in the Maldives and it accounts for 28% of GDP and more than 60% of foreign exchange receipts.
Since the start of tourism in the Maldives during 1970s, Maldives has successfully promoted its natural assets for tourism. The beautiful, unpolluted white sandy beaches on small coral islands, turquoise blue waters attract tourists worldwide, bring in foreign exchange receipts to the country.
The first resort was opened in 1972, and now over 100 islands have been developed as tourist resorts, with a total capacity of some 32,499 beds as of July 2015. The number of tourists (mainly from Europe) visiting the Maldives surpassed the 1 million tourist mark in 2013.
In addition to the existing resorts, guesthouses on local islands are also a new product that is very popular among the tourists.
Laamu Integrated Resorts Development Project launched in 2014 is progressing at a fast pace with high interest from investors. Out of 20 land-plots allocated for hotel development, 16 have already been sold for interested investors. In addition to the 20 plots for hotels, development of 3 water villa plots are also currently on bid for interested investors. One plot has been sold out of the 3 available plots for water villas.
Integrated Resort Development Project is a vision of H. E. President Abdulla Yameen to expand the Maldives’ tourism product portfolio to include accommodations for the three- to four-star sector. The project is expected to be complete by 2017 creating 2,000 new beds and 4,000 new jobs giving a huge boost for the development of mid-market tourism. Once in operation, it is estimated that an additional 200,000 visitors will arrive to the Maldives.
2016 is “Visit Maldives Year”. What promotions are to be organised around this?
“Visit Maldives Year” is a destination marketing campaign that has been declared for 2016 coinciding with the Golden Jubilee of Independence of the Maldives. One of the important targets of “Visit Maldives Year” is to reach 1.5 million tourist arrivals to the country.
Many activities have been planned to attract the tourists to the country during 2016. Among them, one of the major events is partnering with ITB as the host country for 2016. Other activities that can be enjoyed by visitors includes 100 islands in 30 days, mega wedding, international surf competition, 100K tourist celebration, a free diving competition and a photo competition. Also, there will be many other opportunities for visitors to win fabulous free holiday prizes.
Why did your administration decide to be the partner country for ITB Berlin 2016?
This will give the opportunity to promote the Visit Maldives Year to a larger audience as ITB is the biggest travel and tourism event in the world and all the important names within the tourism industry of the world will be visiting ITB.
The second reason is that as Europe is the important regional market to the Maldives, this partnership will increase arrivals and sustain a healthy market share and at the same time strengthen the image of Maldives in the German-speaking countries.
What are the key differentiating factors of your country in terms of tourism?
Maldives is an archipelago of 1,200 small coral islands that offer spectacular beaches and snorkeling and diving. Maldives is largely about beach, sun, water sports, restaurants, and relaxation.
Each resort in the Maldives is on its own island, which showcases the world’s best over-water villas, innovative resort features, and first-class spa facilities.
Resorts have been creative in building unique facilities such as underwater restaurants and spa treatment rooms, underground wine cellars, over water villas with pools, treetop dining venues, observatories and more. Some of the nicest and unique resorts in the world are in the Maldives.
How is transport and hotel infrastructure evolving?
With resorts been developed further away from the main island of Male’, new international airports have been developed in the north and the south of the country. Also, new domestic airports are being developed for further smooth transfer of tourists to far-away resorts.
The Maldives has the world’s largest seaplane fleet serving the tourism industry. Resorts / hotels / guesthouses have been creative in building unique facilities catering to all the segments.