Maldives to open 20 new resorts in 2019

Maldives will welcome 20 new resort openings this year, the island nation’s President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih announced Thursday.

In his presidential address to the inaugural sitting of the parliament for the year, President Solih said 20 new resorts will open in the Maldives this year. With these new resort openings, the number of beds in the country will increase to more than 47,000, he added.

“By the end of last year, 1.4 million tourists from around the world visited the Maldives, and there were 145 resorts and 521 guest houses operating with a total of 44, 860 beds,” the president said.

Eleven new resorts came into operation in 2016, followed by at least 15 new resorts in 2017 and 20 new properties last year.

Over the past few years, dozens of uninhabited islands have been leased to local and foreign resort developers. Several international brands have entered into the market, increasing the number of resorts in operation to more than 140.

Singapore’s Park Hotel Group has opened its first resort in the Maldives, whilst major international hotel chains such as AccorHotels have entered the Maldives with three openings, including Mercure Maldives Kooddoo ResortFairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi and Mӧvenpick Resort Kuredhivaru Maldives as well as two in the pipeline. Brands like Hard Rock InternationalCapella Hotel GroupCarlson Rezidor Hotel GroupEmaar Hospitality GroupBaglioni 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 launching Westin and JW Marriott in Maldives, Hilton Worldwide to re-introduce its top-end luxury brand Waldorf Astoria, Aitken Spence to introduce its Heritance brand, Minor Hotel Group to introduce its AVANI brand, Onyx Hospitality Group to introduce its OZO brand with its second property in the island nation, and LUX* Hotels and Resorts opening its second resort in the Maldives. Centara Hotels and Resorts has also signed a management agreement for its third resort in the tropical destination, while The Residence by Cenizaro has announced the launch of its second Maldivian property.

Leading local hotel groups, including Atmosphere Hotels and ResortsSun Siyam Resorts, and Crown and Champa Resorts, are also on an expansion drive.

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

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 previous government had 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.

Meanwhile, the new government has pledged to ramp up tourism promotion.

Reflecting the new government’s pledge, the state budget for 2019 includes MVR 104,200,000 (USD 6.7 million) for tourism promotion, up from MVR 34,733,333 (USD 2.2 million) this year and the previous year.

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