Maldives opens public consultations for three tourism regulations

Maldives government on Thursday opened public consultations for three tourism related regulations, as part of a review of the legal framework concerning the island nation’s multi-billion-dollar tourism industry.

The three regulations being reviewed include:

  • Regulation on Collection of Data for the Compilation of Tourism Statistics (view the existing regulation here)
  • Regulation on Fire Safety Measures at Tourist Resorts (view the existing regulation here)
  • Regulation on Symbolic Marriages (view the existing regulation here)

Suggestions can be sent to the ministry by January 23.

The government is in the process of formulating a new tourism master plan in a bid to promote sustainable development in the country’s main economic sector.

The latest iteration of the tourism master plan was inaugurated in 2013 and covered the nation’s tourism policy until the end of 2017.

The Fourth Tourism Master Plan targeted infrastructure development and creation of special zones for tourism development. Under the plan, new resorts and guesthouses came into operation, with over 45,000 tourist beds currently in operation across the Maldives.

The upcoming maser plan is set to focus on sustainable development of tourism in the Maldives for the 2020-2025 period.

Maldives has revised its record arrival figures for last year, raising the number of tourists that visited the popular Indian Ocean holiday destination in 2019 from 1.67 million to 1.7 million.

Official figures released by the tourism ministry show that a total of 1,702,831 tourists visited the Maldives in 2019 — a 14.7 per cent increase over 2018. December alone saw 171,292 tourists visiting the country.

The Maldives welcomed 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.

Meanwhile, the government has announced an ambitious target of attracting at least two million tourists to the popular Indian Ocean holiday destination in 2020.

The 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.

However, challenges remain as the world-famous holiday destination struggles to match demand with a rapid increase in bed capacity.

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 to more than 150. That number is set to increase as another 20 resorts are expected to open 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 500 guesthouses in operation today.

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