Maldives says 13 new resort openings set for 2020

Maldives will welcome 13 new resort openings in 2020, the island nation’s tourism minister Ali Waheed announced Tuesday.

At a ceremony held Tuesday evening to announce new islands allocated for resort development, Minister Waheed said 143 resorts were in operation when the new government took over in November 2018. That number has now increased to 154, he added.

“A total of 13 new resorts are set to be opened in the coming year,” the minister said, during the ceremony held at the main convention centre of Dharubaaruge in capital Male.

Maldives is set to achieve its target of welcoming 20 new resort openings this year.

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

The latest official figures show that 152 resorts, 10 hotels, 579 guesthouses and 154 liveaboard vessels are in operation. These establishments have a capacity of 49,337 tourist beds.

Government had earlier said that a total of 132 tourism projects involving 140 islands are being carried out across the Maldives.

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 150.

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 five openings, including Mercure Maldives Kooddoo ResortFairmont Maldives Sirru Fen FushiMӧvenpick Resort Kuredhivaru MaldivesRaffles Maldives Meradhoo Resort, and Pullman Maldives Maamutaa Resort. 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 re-introducing its top-end luxury brand Waldorf Astoria, Aitken Spence introducing its Heritance brand, Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts opening its fourth resort, 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. The Residence by Cenizaro has also opened its second Maldivian property, whilst Thai hospitality group Centara Hotels & Resorts has announced the development of its fifth resort in Maldives.

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, with the first phase of the Crossroads Maldives integrated destination at Emboodhoo Lagoon already open to visitors.

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 500 guesthouses in operation today.

Meanwhile, 29 uninhabited islands and land from several inhabited islands have been allocated for new tourism developments.

Maldives had in November welcomed the 1.5 millionth tourist of the year, reaching the destination’s target for tourist arrivals this year.

Maldives welcomed a record 1.4 million tourists in 2018. It was a 6.8 per cent increase from the 1,389,542 tourists that chose to holiday in the Maldives in 2017.

The new government aims to attract 2.5 million tourist arrivals per year by the end of its first five-year term in 2023.

To achieve this target, the government had added MVR 50 million (USD 3.23 million) to the annual marketing budget of the tourism ministry.

In the state budget for 2020, the government had allocated MVR 154.2 million (USD 9.98 million) for tourism promotion — up from the MVR 104.2 million (USD 6.7 million) in 2019, and MVR 34.73 million (USD 2.2 million) each in 2018 and 2017.

The government, which came to power in 2018, 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) in 2018 and 2017.

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