Maldives to witness $1.6 bln new tourism investments in five years

Maldives will see new investments in tourism worth USD 1.6 billion over the next five years, the island nation’s President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom has announced.

In his presidential address to the inaugural sitting of the parliament for the year in February, President Yameen said 40 foreign investments were registered last year in the tourism industry. These investments are worth USD 1.6 billion, he added.

The president, however, did not give details.

Over the past five years, dozens of uninhabited islands have been leased to local and foreign resort developers, resulting in a rapid increase in new resort openings.

Singapore’s Park Hotel Group has opened its first resort in the Maldives, while major international hotel chains such as AccorHotels have entered the Maldives with two openings and two in the pipeline. Brands like Hard Rock InternationalCapella Hotel GroupCarlson Rezidor Hotel GroupEmaar Hospitality GroupMövenpick Hotels and ResortsBaglioni HotelsEmerald Collection and Meliá Hotels International have announced their entry to the Maldives as well.

Existing international players are also upping their presence, with Marriott International set to launch Westin brand, Hilton Worldwide to re-introduce its top-end luxury brand Waldorf Astoria, Aitken Spence Hotels and Resorts to introduce its Heritance brand, Minor Hotel Group to introduce its AVANI brand, and LUX* Hotels and Resorts to open its second resort in the Maldives. Centara Hotels and Resorts has also signed a management agreement for its fourth resort in the tropical destination.

Leading local hotel groups, including Atmosphere Hotels and ResortsSun Siyam Resorts, and Crown and Champa Resorts, have also announced expansion plans.

Meanwhile, the first integrated tourism developments in the Maldives — Emboodhoo Lagoon project and Rah Falhu Huraa lagoon project — are underway.

However, this rapid expansion of supply has resulted in a slowdown in growth in tourism, after years of double-digit growth. The government has set an ambitious target of attracting 1.5 million tourists by the end of this year, but the country has been struggling to create demand amidst a significant increase in bed capacity.

Along with the new resort openings come the challenge of increasing demand from budget travellers who choose guesthouses over luxury resorts that the Maldives is known for. The guesthouse sector has rapidly expanded with over 450 guesthouses in operation today.

The government has recently announced new steps to maintain a structured growth in tourism, including a slowdown in leasing islands for resort development and increased marketing efforts in key markets such as China and the Middle East in order to reach an ambitious target of a record 1.5 million tourist arrivals this year.

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