Maldives maintains $3.3 mln budget for tourism promotion in 2018

Maldives has maintained a budget of MVR 50 million (USD 3.3 million) to promote its tourism next year, despite struggling to create demand amidst a significant increase in bed capacity.

Government on Wednesday submitted a record state budget of MVR 27.9 billion (USD 1.8 billion) for the year 2018 to the parliament. The parliament is expected to approve the proposed budget by the end of this month.

Tourism minister Moosa Zameer told local news outlet Avas Online on Thursday that MVR 50 million have been allocated from the budget for tourism promotion next year. It is the government’s contribution to the industry, he added.

“We believe it to be adequate. We will get additional funding for tourism promotion from other sources, including resorts,” Zameer said.

The minister stressed that several promotional activities would be carried out next year. He, however, did not provide details.

MVR 50 million were allocated from this year’s budget for tourism promotion as well.

The 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.

These concerns come as the world-famous holiday destination struggles to match an increased bed capacity.

Over the past five 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 over the next two years.

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.

According to the latest statistics, total arrivals for the first nine months of the year increased by 5.7 percent to reach 998,009 compared to the 944,544 in the same period of last year.

Photo: Avas Online

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