First National Maldives Promotion Presents “The Sunny Side of Life” – TravelMole true

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First National Maldives Promotion Presents “The Sunny Side of Life”

Thursday, 06 Jun, 2007 0

Europe dominates the tourism market in the Maldives with almost an 80 per cent market share, but we need to diversify and let more people in other markets know what our sunny islands have to offer, said Abdulla Naim, Deputy Director, Maldives Tourism Promotion Board, pictured right at a Visit Maldives travel industry trade event held at L’Aqua, Cockle Bay Wharf in Sydney on Monday evening.

Australia generated just under 6900 tourists to the Maldives last year with a further 1000 coming from New Zealand.  Figures for the first quarter of 2007 show a 76.8 per cent increase which correlates to 3281 Australian arrivals.  Australians accounted for 1.5 per cent of the nearly 602,000 arrivals we welcomed last year, he said.   (By way of contrast there were 1097 tourists in 1972.)

Surfing is a relatively new sporting product in the Maldives with another appeal being SCUBA diving and snorkelling.  We find that many people make their first ever dive in our clear and warm 20°C water because of the variety of marine life combined with the quality of equipment and the friendliness of instructors, he added.

The Maldives is set to add cruising to its list of visitor appeals with new operators offering 2 and 3 day cruises of the 960 km archipelago.  The opening up of all 1192 islands to tourist access adds to the interest of a cruise holiday which in theory could cover roughly 90,000 square kilometers of Indian Ocean! 

The southern reaches of the flattest country in the world (maximum elevation is 2.3 metres) are set to receive more visitors with the opening of the independent nation’s second international airport in November.  The Gan International Airport is an hour’s flight south of the capital of Male.

The Herethere Resort, aimed to accommodate charter passengers primarily from Europe, will open at the same time on Gan Island, said Mr Naim.

[Pictured left – the Taj Maldives]

On the island south of Gan work is progressing on the Shangri-La Hotel.  The 300 room resort is scheduled to open in March or April, he said.

This will be a very upmarket property.  Currently high end tourists account for some 15 – 20 per cent of our arrivals.  We are trying to further increase exclusive honeymoon arrivals as well as the upmarket family market, he said.

The Maldives represents excellent value for honeymoons with quality upmarket resort properties offering a rate of $250 – 300 per couple per day on a full board basis.  “We expect the upmarket segment of the market to grow about 6 – 7 per cent in 2007,” he said.

There are currently 89 resorts in operation in the 300,000 population Maldives on a one-resort-per-island policy.  We want to increase the number of resorts but don’t want to change this guideline so the only thing we can do is develop more islands, he said.

The government has gazetted 50 uninhabited islands for tourism development in the near future.  The plan calls for the addition of 7000 beds in the next three to four years.  This would increase the accommodation inventory to 27,000 rooms by 2011, he said.

[Pictured right – idyllic clear water in the Maldives]

The first of the 50 new resorts will open later this month.  The 99 room Cinnamon Alidhoo Resort located on the Haa Alifu Atoll will have a soft opening later in June.

Access to all island resorts is by speed boat or sea plane.  With 40 aircraft in operation the Maldives has the largest sea plane service in the world although there is no international carrier.

“We consider Sri Lankan to be our national carrier,” said Mr Naim.  With no announcement forthcoming about the recommencement of Sri Lankan flights to Australia, Singapore Airlines, Malaysian Airlines and Emirates are carrying Australian passengers to the Maldives where a 30 day visa is granted on arrival.

The Visit Maldives 2007 Roadshow attracted around 100 agents in Perth for the inaugural staging of this event last week and 130 agents in Sydney.  Melbourne agents will gather at the Carousel in Albert Park tonight for the city’s first Maldives roadshow.

Four product suppliers came from the Maldives especially for the three-city series of promotions which saw 19 booths set up in an informal but informative setting representing suppliers, wholesalers and airlines.

Roadshow partners included Sun Travel and Tours, Six Senses Resorts & Spas, Lets Go Maldives, Club Med, Taj Maldives, Per Aquum (Huvafen Fushi Resort), AAA Hotels and Resorts, Four Season Hotels and Resorts and Naiade Resorts’ Diva Resort & Spa.

The first ever Maldives national roadshow was coordinated by its Australian marketing representative, Jonica Paramor of The Unique Tourism Collection. 

Exclusive Report by Thomas E. King, TravelMole’s Travel and Lifestyle Editor


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