Maldives leads in Indian Ocean tourism performance, study says

Maldives still leads in performance of tourist properties amongst Indian Ocean destinations, a study by industry-leading global real estate services company Colliers International has shown.

A report analysing the tourism industry of Maldives and similar destinations such as Mauritius, Seychelles and Zanzibar shows that the Maldives has a significant lead on rival Indian Ocean destinations in almost every performance indicator, including occupancy, Average Daily Rate (ADR) and Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR).

According to the analysis, which was published in January, the average occupancy of Maldives resorts stood at 68 percent in 2015 against 66 percent recorded by Seychelles-based properties, 65 percent by Mauritius-based properties and 60 percent by Zanzibar-based properties. ADR for Maldives in 2015 was at USD 843 compared to USD 334 for Seychelles, USD 252 for Mauritius and USD 231 for Zanzibar, while RevPAR for Maldives stood at USD 573 against USD 200 for Seychelles, USD 164 for Mauritius and USD 139 for Zanzibar.

Colliers’ findings are in line with data released last month by leading global market research and analysis firm STR that the Maldives tourism industry posted a moderate performance in the first quarter of the year. STR’s data showed 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).

The analysis by Canada-based Colliers described the Maldives as the “luxury king,” noting that almost half of the available room supply consists of luxury properties. It hailed the unique facilities and activities offered by luxury resorts in the Maldives, including overwater villas, which it said was championed by the Maldives, and dive centres, tennis courts, big game fishing and outdoor cinemas.

“Maldivian resorts command the highest rates, reaching up to USD 4,500 per night in peak periods. This is due to the destination’s global reputation as the ultimate luxury destination,” the report read.

New trends observed in Maldives tourism, as highlighted by the report include:

  • Developing residences as part of resort component, targeting high net worth individuals worldwide.
  • Secluded island resorts primarily targeting couples, while families prefer proximity to Male.
  • Increase in niche travellers; eg. diving groups, wellness enthusiasts, etc.
  • Budget tourism on the rise, but luxury properties still experiencing steady supply of guests.
A tourist couple on the deck of a luxury yacht as it cruises through the turquoise waters of the Maldives. PHOTO/ ISLAND VOYAGES

However, the report warned against growing competition in the segment and the increasing room rates, especially the hiking of Goods and Services Tax to 12 percent and the introduction of a Green Tax which has further increased the rates.

According to the analysis, the budget sector is gaining ground in the Maldives due to an influx of price sensitive guests looking for affordable accommodation options. Operated by local entrepreneurs, these new entrants in the hospitality industry are currently setting base on secondary islands round Male and in close proximity to domestic airports, it said.

These findings by international firms are backed by Maldives central bank, which on Tuesday posted a strong growth forecast for the country’s tourism industry as it hailed the resilience of the industry observed last year.

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.

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.

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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