Maldives central bank has posted a strong growth forecast for the country’s tourism industry as it hailed the resilience of the industry observed last year.
In its annual report for 2016 released Tuesday, Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) said the strong growth observed in the tourism sector during the latter part of last year is expected to continue this year. The strong growth is attributed mainly to the increased number of tourists from the European market, which reflects better growth prospects for the region, it added.
Mirroring the positive outlook for the sector, MMA projected bed nights growth to be at five percent in 2017.
“These projections may be even higher if the remarkable performance seen in the tourism sector at the turn of the year continues,” the report read.
Recovery in second half of 2016
Maldives marked 2016 as ‘Visit Maldives Year’ in an effort to reach a target of 1.5 million tourists entering the country during the year. Several tourism promotion activities were carried out in Asia and Europe, and many competitions and events were also held within the Maldives to boost tourist arrivals. While the campaign was successful in attracting 1.3 million tourists — four percent more than the previous year — it fell short of reaching the 1.5 million target.
According to MMA, the trend in tourist arrivals to the Maldives during 2016 showed that arrivals picked up strongly in the second half of the year. This increase was underpinned by improving economic conditions in European countries, coupled with a rise in flight movements by international carriers over the period, the authority said adding that the strong growth in arrivals from the European markets more than offset the decline in arrivals from the Chinese market.
MMA noted that other key indicators such as bed nights growth also followed a similar trend, gaining momentum towards the latter part of the year and recording an overall growth of three percent for the year. Reflecting this, the average duration of stay, which has been on a downward trend, fell only slightly to 5.6 days in 2016 from 5.7 days in 2015, contributing to a six percent growth in estimated tourism receipts, it said.
The tourism sector witnessed a major expansion in terms of the number of resorts and bed capacity in 2016, the authority stressed. With the opening of 11 new resorts, the total number of resorts in the country increased to 126 at the end of the year, while the number of registered guesthouses, hotels and safari vessels reached 382, 16 and 144, respectively. With regard to bed capacity, the average operational bed capacity of the industry7 stood at 29,457 beds.
Tourist demographics: Europe regains market share
As for the market share of tourists, Europe accounted for 45 percent of total tourist arrivals, while Asia accounted for 46 percent. Reflecting the improving economic conditions in the European markets, market share for Europe increased; this was a reversal of the downward trend of previous years. However, the market share of Asia — the market leader since 2014 — dipped from the 49 percent in 2015 to 46 percent in 2016.
Arrivals from the European market grew significantly at seven percent during 2016 after recording a marginal growth rate of one percent in 2015. This was mainly supported by growth in arrivals from the UK, despite a marked depreciation in the pound sterling. On the other hand, Germany, the second largest market from the region registered a marginal growth owing to political tensions in their country. Other key markets such as Italy registered a remarkable positive growth, whereas growth in tourists from France dropped significantly during the year. Arrivals from Spain also registered a sizeable growth compared with previous years. In addition, arrivals from smaller source markets in Eastern, Central and East Mediterranean Europe also improved.
“This can be attributed to an increase in flight movements to these regions during the year,” the report read.
MMA noted that arrivals from Russia — the fourth largest European market — also showed a strong positive growth after recording two consecutive years of negative growth. This reflected the easing of the recent economic recession that was prevalent in the country, it said.
Total arrivals from the Asia and Pacific region registered a marginal decline in 2016 after posting a positive growth during the previous year. Growth was largely hampered by the 10 percent decline in Chinese arrivals.
However, other key markets from the Asian region — such as India, Sri Lanka and Malaysia — showed pronounced growth on the back of increased flight movements. Some operators introduced flights to new destinations in 2016, including new flights to New Delhi and Colombo, contributing to more arrivals from both India and Sri Lanka.
MMA attributed the increase in arrivals from Malaysia to the growth in flight movements of a regional low-cost carrier from South East Asia during the year.
Arrivals from the Middle East also posted a strong growth rate, owing to an increase in arrivals from Saudi Arabia. This may be due to a new the commencement of Saudi Arabia’s flagship carrier Saudia between Riyadh and the Maldives, according to MMA.
Arrivals from the Americas, which have doubled in the past five years, also increased due to considerable growth in arrivals from the US.
Similar trends in 2017?
Despite the strong growth forecast by the central bank, Maldives has experienced another slowdown in tourist arrivals in the first quarter of the year. January saw a significant increase in arrivals, but growth has slowed down since then with a 2.1 percent drop in arrivals in March.
Europe, the largest regional source market which has been recovering for the past couple of months after a year of falling growth, also posted a drop of three percent in March with important European markets such as the United Kingdom declining by nine percent.
Middle East, one of the most important emerging source markets, also observed a decline of 8.3 percent in March with arrivals from Saudi Arabia dropping by 31 percent.
Leading global market research and analysis firm STR has also said that the Maldives tourism industry observed a moderate performance in the first quarter of the year.
A report analysing Asia Pacific hotel industry performance shows that occupancy fell by one percent to 69 percent in the Maldives during the first quarter. Average Daily Rate (ADR), however, increased by 2.3 percent to MVR13,044.63 (USD846.5) and Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR) was up 1.3 percent to reach MVR9,000.17 (USD584).
RevPAR growth was moderate in the Maldives throughout the quarter despite a 10.3 percent increase in January, which was due to a 32 percent rise in arrivals from China during the Spring Festival Golden Week holiday. RevPAR growth for the quarter, however, became muted with declines in both February (-3.8 percent) and March (-4.2 percent).
Over the past three 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 to 120. That number is set to increase as the government has announced the opening of some 20 new resorts by the end of this year.
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 300 guesthouses in operation today.
Government has come under fire from private organisations representing industry stakeholders such as the Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO) over the lack of effort and budget to promote the Maldives as a destination.
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.
Photo courtesy: Amilla Fushi
Abdulla Wisam: A journey of excellence and growth in the Maldivian hospitality industry
In the heart of the stunning Maldives, where luxury resorts and crystal-clear waters come together to create a paradise on Earth, there are individuals who work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that every guest’s experience is nothing short of exceptional. One such individual is Abdulla Wisam, whose remarkable journey in the hospitality industry is a testament to his dedication, passion, and unwavering commitment to providing the best possible service to guests.
Abdulla Wisam’s journey in the hospitality industry began right after completing his schooling. In 2003, he embarked on his professional career by joining Dhoveli Beach Resort & Spa, where he gained his first taste of the world of hospitality. It was here that he discovered his passion for creating memorable guest experiences and building relationships with visitors from around the world.
After his initial foray into the industry, Wisam’s career path continued to evolve. His dedication and hard work caught the attention of industry leaders, leading him to take on roles of increasing responsibility. His time at Meeru Island Resort saw him as an Outlet Cashier and Night Auditor, roles that allowed him to develop a deep understanding of the operational aspects of a resort.
Wisam’s determination and eagerness to learn led him to the iconic Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru, where he started as a Recreation Attendant. Over time, he showcased his exceptional skills in guest relations and management, and he was promoted to the position of Front Office Supervisor. His journey with Four Seasons served as a stepping stone for what was to come next.
In 2014, Wisam joined the W Maldives, a resort known for its luxurious offerings and unparalleled guest experiences. Starting as a Welcome Team Leader, he quickly rose through the ranks due to his impeccable guest service skills and innate leadership abilities. His promotion to Guest Experience Manager was a testament to his ability to not only meet but exceed guest expectations. He was then transferred to The St. Regis Maldives as the Assistant Front Office Manager with the pre-opening team.
As his career trajectory continued its upward trajectory, Wisam took on the role of Front Office Manager at prestigious resorts such as Milaidhoo Island, Raffles Maldives, and The Standard Maldives. These roles allowed him to refine his management style, hone his problem-solving skills, and contribute to the overall success of each resort.
Wisam’s journey eventually led him to COMO Cocoa Island, a resort renowned for its unparalleled luxury and exquisite attention to detail. Joining as the Front Office Manager, he embraced the challenges and responsibilities that came with the position. His dedication, combined with his innate ability to create genuine connections with guests, led to his promotion as the Director of Rooms.
Wisam’s journey in the Maldivian hospitality industry is a remarkable tale of perseverance, growth, and a genuine passion for creating exceptional guest experiences. His diverse roles, spanning from recreation to guest experience management, have equipped him with a holistic understanding of the industry. His commitment to continuous improvement and dedication to delivering top-tier service have not only benefited the resorts he’s been a part of but have also contributed to elevating the reputation of Maldives as a premier luxury travel destination.
As Wisam continues to shape the guest experience landscape at COMO Cocoa Island, one can only imagine the heights he will reach and the impact he will make on the ever-evolving hospitality industry of the Maldives. His journey stands as an inspiration to aspiring hoteliers and a testament to the boundless opportunities that await those who are truly passionate about their craft.
A remarkable tale of wanderlust: Naito Takashi’s 103rd journey to the Maldives
The azure waters of the Maldives have long been a magnet for travelers seeking paradise on Earth. Among these wanderers, one name stands out – Naito Takashi, a Japanese tourist whose boundless enthusiasm for the Maldives has led him to visit this tropical haven a staggering 103 times. His unwavering love for this island nation, coupled with its mesmerizing beauty, has turned his visits into a remarkable testament to the allure of the Maldives.
For the past 24 years, Naito Takashi has visited Maldives between three to five times annually, embarking on a journey that has spanned more than two decades. His tale is one of dedication, passion, and a deep-rooted connection with the captivating landscapes that the Maldives offers. Each visit is not just a vacation; it’s a renewal of his profound relationship with the natural wonders that have captured his heart.
Naito Takashi’s 103rd arrival to the Maldives was met with a warm and heartfelt welcome from none other than the Tourism Minister himself, Dr. Abdulla Mausoom. This gesture symbolizes the deep appreciation the Maldivian people have for their loyal and devoted visitors. The ceremony held aboard the M/V Blue of the Fun Azul Fleet was a fitting tribute to a traveler who has become an honorary ambassador of the Maldives.
The M/V Blue, Fun Azul Fleet, holds special significance for Naito Takashi. As an avid diver, he has found his perfect companion in this cruise boat specialized in diving charters. The vessel offers schedules tailored to explore the best dive spots around the Maldives’ islands, making it an ideal partner for a diving enthusiast like Naito Takashi. The crystal-clear waters of the Maldives have witnessed countless underwater escapades orchestrated by this intrepid traveler.
The Maldives’ Ministry of Tourism has lauded Naito Takashi’s enduring passion for the nation’s beauty. Their tweet acknowledging his multiple visits serves as a testament to his unique and cherished relationship with the country. He has witnessed the ever-changing landscape of the Maldives, from its pristine beaches to its vibrant marine life, and has undoubtedly contributed to the thriving tourism industry.
Naito Takashi’s story also reflects the profound impact that travel can have on an individual’s life. His unwavering commitment to exploring the Maldives has not only enriched his own experiences but has also brought attention to the natural wonders of Maldives. It stands as a reminder that the act of traveling is not just about ticking off destinations from a bucket list; it’s about forming connections, fostering appreciation, and creating lasting memories.
As Naito Takashi continues his journey through the Maldives, his story resonates as an inspiration to fellow travelers and a tribute to the unyielding allure of this island paradise. His 103rd visit is not just a numerical milestone; it’s a celebration of an extraordinary bond between a traveler and a destination, a bond that has grown stronger with each passing year and promises to endure for years to come.
Amari Raaya Maldives opens its gates to paradise
In a grand celebration of luxury and nature’s wonders, Amari Raaya Maldives resort has officially opened its doors, welcoming its first guests to experience a slice of paradise in the Maldives. The exclusive event was attended by the resort’s management team, as well as Atul Chordia, Chairman of Panchshil Realty, the developer behind this magnificent project.
Nestled on a pristine natural island in the heart of the Maldives’ Raa Atoll, Amari Raaya promises to be a sanctuary for travelers seeking an unforgettable escape amidst the archipelago’s breathtaking beauty. From the moment guests arrived via Manta Air seaplane, they were greeted with warm hospitality and a taste of Maldivian culture, as they were presented with traditional cultural items and treated to mesmerizing Maldivian dances.
Atul Chordia, the visionary behind Panchshil Realty, and Yuthachai Charanachitta ONYX Hospitality Group’s CEO marked the official opening of the resort by cutting the ribbon, signifying the culmination of a labor of love and dedication to creating a unique haven for luxury travelers.
With 187 villas offering a variety of luxurious experiences, Amari Raaya ensures that every guest’s stay is truly exceptional. Visitors can choose from an array of accommodation options, including the Beach Villas, Beach Pool Villas, and interconnecting Family Beach Villas, perfect for creating cherished memories with loved ones.
For those seeking unparalleled luxury and seclusion, the Ocean Villas and Ocean Pool Villas provide panoramic views of the azure waters teeming with marine life. Sunset enthusiasts can revel in the breathtaking beauty of the Maldivian dusk from the privacy of their villas, opting for the Sunset Ocean Villas or Sunset Ocean Pool Villas, promising an unforgettable experience.
Amari Raaya Maldives goes beyond offering captivating villas; it has curated an extraordinary culinary journey for its guests. With eight distinct dining options, visitors can embark on a gastronomic adventure that caters to every palate. From the signature Amaya Food Gallery, serving famous street food and hawker delights, to the rooftop bar Ampers&nd, where guests can savor sunset snacks and cocktails, the resort promises to delight all epicureans. Poolside Italian favorites, freshly caught seafood infused with Maldivian and Asian flavors, and the fun and playful experience of enjoying mobile snacks and drinks served from a bus all add to the culinary magic of the resort.
In the evenings, guests can find a sense of community and immerse themselves in the local culture through live music, traditional Boduberu nights, and regular cultural events and festivities, making every moment at Amari Raaya Maldives an enriching and memorable one.
Amari Raaya Maldives is developed by Panchshil Realty, a name synonymous with excellence in luxury real estate in India. The resort is managed by Onyx Hospitality, renowned for its exceptional and personalized hospitality experiences.
With its official opening, Amari Raaya Maldives invites travelers from around the world to discover the allure of the Maldives in unparalleled comfort and style. As guests arrive at this oasis of luxury and natural splendor, they are sure to find themselves enchanted by the timeless beauty of the islands and immersed in an experience that will linger in their hearts forever.
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