Maldives steps up tourism promotion in Saudi Arabia

Maldives has hosted another exclusive promotional event in Saudi Arabia in a bid to court more travellers from the Arab kingdom in the summer period.

The event, dubbed Sunny Side of Life, was organised by the Maldives embassy in Riyadh in collaboration with leading local resort operator The Sun Siyam Resorts, and saw presentations by government officials and top representatives from the company.

At the event held at the the Holiday Inn Qasr on Sunday, Maldivian ambassador Abdullah Hameed said the islands have attracted many Saudi visitors because of their hotel facilities, which provide absolute privacy for individual families. Last year, there were more than 55,000 travellers from the Middle East and 48 percent of them were Saudis, he said adding that it was a 40 percent increase in the number of Saudi tourists over the year before.

The ambassador also said more than 15 foreign airlines operate to Male from different parts of the world, and it has become a popular destination for celebrities, royalty and sports stars.

Group Director of Business Development at The Sun Siyam Resorts Evgenia Boyankova said accommodation rates are not as expensive as people assume. Hotel rates are tailored according to the needs and budget of the tourists, she said.

“We can give the best of facilities for those families who opt for a private holiday,” she said, assuring that they can be on their own and enjoy their holiday with their family members.

In addition to the exclusive event, Maldives also participated in the Riyadh Travel Fair, the largest exhibition of travel and tourism products in Saudi Arabia. Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO) along with representatives from 11 companies involved in the tourism sector, including resort operators and guesthouse, showcased the Maldives at the fair, which concluded Monday.

Middle East is one of the major emerging source markets for the Maldives tourism industry. Official figures show that 51,330 tourists visited the Maldives from Middle Eastern countries last year, a 22.3 percent increase over the 41,976 the year before.

That growth is set to continue this year as well, as Middle Eastern travellers that chose to travel to the Maldives for their holidays increased by 3.9 percent in the first two months of the year.

Middle East is also the hub from which major airlines such as Emirates, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways and Fly Dubai have scheduled direct flights to the Maldives’ main Velana International Airport. Recent addition to flights from the Middle East is Saudi Arabia’s flagship carrier Saudi Airlines.

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