MATATO raises serious concerns about destination marketing efforts for 2017

As previously lobbied by MATATO when Government’s budget was submitted to the parliament about the importance of destination marketing given the challenges of rapid supply of beds in the market that doesn’t match the demand to the Maldives due to lack of marketing.

MATATO also organized a Travel Conference this November with a whole segment that contributed to destination marketing with expert speakers from PATA, CNN, and TTG Asia. The association also lobbied to the Parliament, relevant government bodies and MMPRC in emphasizing on the immense growth regarding bed capacity, and openings of over twenty resorts this year and next year, with the addition to the rapid growth of guesthouses. The association also approached other tourism NGOs as well in their lobbying efforts.

As per the recent studies by World Travel Monitor that reflects UNWTO reports, which indicated that many Asian destinations reported double-digit growth, with Vietnam (+36 percent), the Republic of Korea (+34 percent), Japan (+24 percent) and Sri Lanka (+15 percent) in tourist arrivals in the first threequarters of this year. Chinese tourists traveling out of China has a growth of 18% with average 11% outbound travel growth from other various Asian countries.

Given the last arrival statistics by Ministry of Tourism in October this year destination Maldives saw a mere growth of 3.6% compared to 2015, and Chinese market with a significant decline of 10.6%.

As per various sources, Ministry of Tourism only got less than 25% of the requested budget for 2017 for Destination Marketing, an amount less than what was spent on this in 2016 and even 2015.

It is alarming for the industry when over two-thirds of the economy rely on the Tourism industry. Other competing destinations like Sri Lanka, Mauritius and Seychelles have marketing budgets that are ten to twenty times more than Maldives.

It is vital that the Ministry of Tourism is given the adequate budgets in order to meet their tasks of marketing destination given the challenges of regional competition from emerging beach destinations and the PR challenges the destination has had in recent.

MATATOs role in taking part independently in various travel trade fairs is not to substitute MMPRCs efforts but to compliment theirs. And it critical for brand Maldives to be showcased widely on the global tourism stage and will have serious consequences if this continues to be ignored with an eventual decline in arrivals leading to poor ROI for investors in the Tourism industry.

STR, global leading market research, and analysis firm reported in Third Quarter of 2016, for Maldives reporting decreases across the three key performance metrics: Occupancy, ADR (Average Daily Rate) and RevPAR (revenue per available room).

We are through mid-December and MMPRC still has not sent circulars for the travel trade shows in January, February and March. Travel plans need time to be arranged for various stakeholders with planning flights, accommodation, and logistics thus such poor last minute planning risks for the Maldives’ brand presence in traditional travel shows in Spain, India, Germany, Switzerland and Turkey.

Marketing is one of the few expenses that have a direct Return on Investment. More tourists for Maldives means more tax income for the government directly via TGST, Green Tax and indirectly from a more stimulated local economy.

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