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In sign of post-emergency recovery, Maldives tourist arrivals gain 10 percent in June

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Maldives on Wednesday reported a major increase in tourist arrivals, in the first signs of recovery after a new wave of domestic political turmoil rocked the island nation.

Maldives attracted a wave of bad publicity following the recent declaration of a state of emergency, which ended in March. However, the political turmoil was strictly restricted to the capital city, away from the resorts and local islands where holidaymakers stay in.

The political turmoil led to rare declines of 0.1 percent and 0.6 percent in tourist arrivals in April and May.

However, official figures for the month of June released by the tourism ministry show that a total of 93,786 tourists visited the Maldives during the month — a 1o percent increase over the 85,222 tourists in June 2017.

Europe, the largest regional source market, posted an overall growth of 5.4 percent over June 2017, as arrivals increased to 30,765 from 29,194.

The UK, which is the single biggest European source market, made a gain of 6.2 percent, while several other major European markets such as Italy, France and Spain also posted gains of 16.9 percent, 50.8 percent and 38.9 percent respectively. However, Germany, the second most important European source market, declined by 23.3 percent in June.

Russian travellers continued to show their appetite for the Maldives, as arrival numbers jumped 11.8 percent in June to reach 3,646 from 3,262 in June 2017. This strong performance last month translated into an impressive growth of 25.4 percent in arrivals from Russia for the first six months of the year.

After a decline of 8.8 percent in May, arrivals from Asia, the second largest regional source market, also increased 8.9 percent in June.

Arrivals from China once again declined by 5.4 percent to reach 22,853 compared to the 24,160 in June 2017. This decline, which came after declines of 27.5 percent, 28 percent and 27.1 percent in March, April and May respectively as well as 15.8 percent in January, offset the rare gain in arrival numbers from China in February and led to a 10 percent decline in arrivals from the Maldives’ single biggest source market for the January-June period.

Meanwhile, almost all major contributors to Maldives tourism from South East Asia continued to post strong gains in June as well, with arrivals from countries such as Malaysia, Thailand and Philippines increasing by 91.8 percent, 109.4 percent and 1.6 percent respectively. However, arrivals from Singapore again saw a decrease of 6.3 percent in June after a rare uptick of 2.9 percent in May.

Arrivals from South Asia, which has become one of the fastest growing source markets, also posted a gain of 6.2 percent in June. This is largely due to a 6.2 percent increase in the number of tourists from India, the most important market in the region.

Along with the strong performance in established markets, relatively new markets also continued their upward growth trajectory last month, as arrivals from the Americas were up 14.4 percent and Oceania up 23.6 percent.

Arrivals from the US, which last year secured a place amongst the top 10 contributors to the Maldives tourism industry, increased by 13.6 percent to reach 3,129 last month compared to the 2,754 in June 2017, while the number of visitors from Australia also increased by 22.9 percent. South Africa, which has been on the recovery, also posted an increase of 16.4 percent.

Middle East, which has proven to be a volatile market, recorded gains of 74.5 percent in June after a decline of 24.1 percent in May. Arrivals from almost all major Middle Eastern countries, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Egypt posted major gains of 252.2 percent, 15.2 percent, 680 percent and 23.2 percent respectively. However, United Arab Emirates, one of the most important Middle Eastern markets, posted a rare decline of 7.7 percent.

According to the June statistics, total arrivals for the first six months of the year increased by 10.5 percent to reach 726,515 compared to the 657,540 in the same period of last year.

In addition to the political turmoil, the Maldives is currently experiencing the traditionally low season.

May to November is considered the low tourist season, as these months constitute rainy season in Maldives. Between May and November, the islands boast of wet weather, making it less ideal for tourists to travel and enjoy the tropical environment.

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 last year 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: Lily Beach Resort and Spa Maldives

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Indian influencer Niki Mehra in Maldives

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Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC/ Visit Maldives) hosted a familiarisation trip with Amilla Maldives for high-end influencer, Niki Mehra, from India to experience the luxury and romantic offerings of the Maldives from 3rd – 6th May 2024.

The familiarisation trip was a great opportunity to Niki Mehra, a renowned Indian model, fashion, beauty and travel content creator and social media influencer with over half a million followers who has carved a niche in the Indian fashion industry with her unique sense of style. During her time in the Sunny Side of Life, Niki Mehra showcased luxury to romantic experiences of the destination.

The trip promoted Maldives through social media platforms of Niki Mehra while highlighting experiential itinerary offerings of the Maldives. Additionally, the influencer trip assisted MMPRC in propelling growth in the luxury travel segment and honeymoon market by showcasing the Maldives as a premier honeymoon destination for the Indian travellers.

The Indian market has been a strong market for the Maldives over the years, currently ranked number 6 with 46,970 tourists as of 13th May 2024. Additionally, MMPRC showcased the Maldives in OTM and SATTE held earlier this year. MMPRC is committed to boosting the arrivals from the market and has exciting marketing activities planned for future, including joint campaigns, familiarisation trips, participation in major events and other campaigns which provides numerous opportunities to showcase the breathtaking Maldives to the market, attracting more Indian travellers.

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130 hotels in The Prestige Collection with 4 Maldives properties

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The Prestige Collection has reached 130 hotels in its portfolio, continuing to uphold quality and excellence as core pillars. It represents the most exclusive selection within Keytel, the world’s first alliance of independent hotels.

Since its establishment in 2007, The Prestige Collection has been dedicated to meeting the growing demand for luxury hotels, becoming a reference for hospitality industry specialists. Despite its focus on independent hotels, the collection has successfully attracted prestigious properties from international luxury chains such as Rosewood Villa Magna, Mandarín Oriental Ritz Madrid, and Fairmont Mayakoba in Riviera Maya. These hotels view The Prestige Collection as a complement to their commercial strategy for attracting luxury clientele.

With a prominent presence both nationally and internationally across 36 countries, The Prestige Collection shines in with four distinguished resorts: Baglioni Resort Maldives, Diamonds Athuruga Maldives Resort & Spa, Diamonds Thudufushi Maldives Resort & Spa, and Hideaway Beach Resort & Spa. Internationally, the collection boasts emblematic properties like Armani Dubai, Café Royal in London, The Pierre in New York, and Kappa Senses in Ubud, Bali, among others.

The collection categorises hotels into four distinctive categories, highlighting ideal places to disconnect, properties in vibrant urban settings, coastal options for those seeking serenity, and unique experiences for those seeking singularity.

Furthermore, this milestone coincides with the relaunch of its new experiential website platform. This platform offers users and industry professionals the opportunity to explore the collection in greater detail and drives qualified traffic to the official websites of member hotels.

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Waste Management Corporation (WAMCO) Marks a Significant Step Towards Transforming Urban Waste Management

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Waste Management Corporation (WAMCO) marked a significant step towards plastic waste management with the adoption of dedicated vehicles handed over to boost this transformation of urban waste management supported by The Coca-Cola Foundation (TCCF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the Maldives.  

In March 2024, UNDP Maldives officially handed over a fleet of six vehicles to WAMCO, which included two electric vehicles (EVs), as part of an initiative aimed at enhancing waste management across the Greater Male’ Area (GMA). This acquisition, facilitated through the financial support of TCCF paves the way for a crucial advancement in bolstering PET collection efforts and tackling the challenge of plastic waste in the Maldives.

“This initiative marks a significant step towards boosting recycling rates and combating environmental pollution in the Maldives,” stated Pek Chuan Gan, Deputy Resident Representative of UNDP Maldives speaking at the handover ceremony. “Integrating electric vehicles into WAMCO’s fleet and improving PET recycling processes not only lowers carbon emissions but also pioneers renewable energy use in waste management. It’s a vital move for steering the Maldives towards a sustainable and renewable-powered future.”

The provision of electric vehicles marks a continuation of UNDP Maldives’ support to the Government’s vision to introduce renewable energy in key sectors such as waste management that significantly contribute to the country’s renewable energy transition ambition. By embracing clean energy solutions, such as electric vehicles in waste management practices, the Maldives can further reduce its carbon footprint and move closer to achieving its renewable energy goals.

“Utilizing eco-friendly vehicles is a pivotal change for WAMCO, signifying a major leap towards modernizing waste management in the Maldives,” remarked Mujthaba Jaleel, Managing Director, from WAMCO. “This collaboration highlights the shared commitment to environmental stewardship and the potential for such partnerships to catalyse meaningful progress in sustainability and about the positive impact these vehicles will have on our operations and the environment.”

Representatives from UNDP Maldives, WAMCO, and The Coca-Cola Foundation’s unified efforts towards a sustainable future. Photo courtesy: CIAO Advertising.

“Our commitment goes beyond just recycling; it’s about fostering a culture of sustainability,” remarked Saadia Madsbjerg, President, Coca‑Cola Foundation and VP Community Affairs. “By enhancing waste management in the Maldives, we aspire to set a benchmark for environmental stewardship.”

For The Coca-Cola Foundation, together with the stakeholders, the aim is to propel Maldives towards a future where plastic circularity is not just envisioned but actively pursued. By channelling resources and expertise into the heart of waste management, TCCF has made a sizeable contribution in enhancing and attracting investment to this crucial sector in the Maldives. This initiative is a testament to TCCF’s commitment to fostering sustainable practices and promoting the reuse and recycling of plastics, thereby reducing environmental impact, and paving the way for a circular economy.

The fleet handover event held on March 18, 2024, served as a celebration of collaboration in waste management. Representatives from UNDP Maldives, WAMCO, The Coca-Cola Foundation, government officials, and stakeholders came together to mark this significant step and reinforced their collective dedication to building a more sustainable future for the Maldives.

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