Maldives – ME’s favourite getaway

Maldives was one of the first destinations that opened after the pandemic, which created an advantage for the Middle East travellers, who were eagaerly on the lookout for exclusive, luxurious destinations with privacy for the entire family. Thoyyib Mohamed, CEO and Managing Director, Visit Maldives, speaks to TRAVTALK on their expectations from the region and plans to attract the guests.

Dr. Shehara Rizly

How important is the Middle East/ GCC market?

The Middle East comprises some of our major sources who seek the niche and luxury travel experiences that the
Maldives has in abundance, making it a perfect destination for any traveller from the region. This region presents a lucrative growth opportunity, aligning perfectly with Maldives’ brand. It continues to be one of the most profitable markets to the destination, with a large number of tourists visiting high-end, luxurious properties. Visit Maldives conducts a variety of activities to promote the Sunny Side of Life in the Middle East, from participation in major fairs and exhibitions like Arabian Travel Market, to joint marketing campaigns with travel agents, tour operators, airlines, media publications and broadcasters, because we understand the prospective growth numbers of this market.

Maldives became the most sought-after destination as soon as borders opened. How will you keep the same momentum two years after?

The Maldives’ success story serves as an inspiration to other tourism dependent economies worldwide, highlighting the importance of resilience, innovative destination marketing, and a commitment to sustainability. The Maldives only closed for a few months during the worst of the pandemic, and since reopening of our borders for tourists in July 2020, we have not looked back. Our arrival numbers improve year by year despite the dip in 2020, and we have not yet failed to achieve the arrival targets set for the year since then.

What is the USP of Maldives?

The Maldives has many offerings that set it apart in the eyes of tourists from the Middle East and beyond. Comprising a collection of scattered islands, the Maldives boasts of a distinctive ‘one island, one resort’ concept, promising an exclusive vacation experience for visitors. We are known worldwide as the epitome of luxury, catering exceptionally well to couples, honeymooners, families, and halal travellers, but the Maldives is so much more than just luxury. The destination’s allure extends to the MICE and local experiences segments.

Could you share the initiatives taken to attract more visitors from the ME/ GCC region?

To attract more visitors from the ME/ GCC region, we consistently strengthen the presence of Maldives in the market through a 360-degree marketing approach. We conduct various PR activities, joint promotions with key partners, participate in major fairs such as ATM & ILTM, conduct Maldives roadshows in different ME/GCC cities, and host familiarisation trips from the region. We maintain a strong presence on social media and digital marketing platforms to ensure the Maldives remains a top-of-the-mind destination.

Will you be able to share your expectations from ME/ GCC to Maldives this year?

In general, post the COVID-19 lockdowns, the UAE region has shown a significant increase in the arrival numbers compared to previous years. We had 79,963 visitors from the ME/ GCC region in 2022, and 64,246 by the end of September 2023.

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