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Cash-stressed Maldives hotel sector set to evaluate over reliance on wholesalers

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Hotel owners and operators in the Maldives are learning the hard way how quickly disruption can turn cash flow negative.

One key trend in global leisure destinations is a severe liquidity crunch of wholesalers and travel intermediaries, which in turn has created a domino impact on hotels. This has created difficulties for the tourism dependent Indian Ocean island nation.

Cash strapped hotels, who are owed significant funds for guests who have already stayed are being forced to negotiate payment terms or event contemplate write offs, are crying foul. Further stress from contracted allocations that cannot be fulfilled has become commonplace as advance deposits are being held by external suppliers.

The situation is expected to become worse should wholesalers become insolvent. In Thailand, hoteliers have sought government action with the TUI Group, as despite a 1.8 billion euro loan being approved by the German central government, they have yet to clear past payments overseas with are due.

As hotels look to the reopening journey ahead, a new survey of 1,100 qualified Chinese travellers in first tier cities by hospitality consulting group C9 Hotelworks and Delivering Asia Communications focusing on travel sentiment to the Maldives has pinpointed some key changes forecasted in visitor behaviour.

One of the shift dynamic shifts in the data saw 75 per cent of respondents prefer independent travel versus being part of a group. While 38 per cent wanted to book hotels and flights separately.

A rising tide of consumers also identified direct or social media channels to book a Maldives holiday with Fliggy, WeChat and hotel websites accounting for over a third of the expected share demand.

“Travel safety is a key post-crisis factor for all overseas travellers including Chinese. What is interesting from the China responses was that 67 per cent of those surveyed considered the Maldives to be a safer holiday choice compared to other destinations,” C9’s Managing Director Bill Barnett was quoted in a statement, as saying.

“While a lingering ‘fear factor’ is a Covid-19 consequence, the country is likely to be seen as a safe haven given its inherent island isolation.”

Summarising the learning from the survey, Delivering Asia Communications CEO David Johnson voiced a call to action for hotel operators and owners alike.

“There is a clear opportunity for hoteliers to more directly control their business stream, create healthy segmentation with increasingly influential social media channels and stay relevant in a fast-evolving travel scene that is all part of how the industry can take back control of its own destiny,” he said.

“The single use business model of leveraging business with wholesalers looks to be past its ‘used by’ date.”

These issues and more will be discussed in a far-reaching webinar on Thursday June 4 at 1pm Maldives time called, “Maldives: tourism in the age of escapism”.

Speakers include Sonu Shivdasani, CEO and Joint Creative Director at Soneva; Jesper Palmqvist, Area Director Asia Pacific at STR; David Keen, CEO at QUO; Dirk De Cuyper, CEO at S Hotels & Resorts; Ghaly Murthala, Founder and Managing Director at Morteza Capital; Bill Barnett, Managing Director at C9 Hotelworks; and Vanessa Zhu, China Director at Delivering Asia Communications.

For registration click here.

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Maldives celebrates arrival of 2024’s 1 millionth tourist

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Maldives on Thursday welcomed the one millionth tourist to visit this year.

The one millionth tourist is a Thai named Sutapa Amonwivat, who arrived from Singapore with her husband and two children. This is her second visit to Maldives.

Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) and the Ministry of Tourism gave a warm welcome to Sutapa at the Velana International Airport (VIA) Thursday afternoon. She was welcomed at the VIA by tourism minister Ibrahim Faisal, MMPRC Managing Director Ibrahim Shiury and senior officials of various relevant agencies.

After welcoming her with traditional offerings, she was presented with various gifts by the ministry, MMPRC, customs, immigration, Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO) and Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA).

Maldives reached one million tourists in June, three weeks earlier than last year. The number of tourists reached one million on July 16, 2023.

Maldives expects to reach 2 million tourists this year.

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New air route connects Chongqing to Maldives

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Chongqing Airlines on Monday began its inaugural flights to Maldives.

The Chongqing-Male route, scheduled three times a week, is expected to strengthen the bonds between China and the Maldives, opening up exciting new opportunities for tourism and cultural exchange.

The inaugural flight was welcomed upon its arrival at Velana International Airport (VIA) in Maldives, where local officials and tourism representatives expressed their enthusiasm for this new development.

“We warmly welcome our friends from China to our beautiful islands. This new connection strengthens our bonds and opens up new opportunities for tourism,” the tourism ministry said on X.

Maldives currently welcomes four airlines from China, including China Eastern, Beijing Capital Airlines, Xiamen Airlines.

In January, Maldives government urged tourism stakeholders in both Maldives and China to ramp up efforts to restore China’s position as the primary source market for Maldives tourism, a status held before the onset of Covid-19.

China, being the largest source market for Maldives tourism before the pandemic, saw a resumption of tourist arrivals from January 2023 after a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic. In 2023, the Maldives welcomed 187,118 Chinese tourists, marking a significant recovery in numbers. This year, the Maldives has welcomed the most number of tourists from China, with over 107,940 or 11.5 percent of total arrivals by June 12. 

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CROSSROADS Maldives Introduces Weixin Pay at resorts for seamless guest experience

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CROSSROADS Maldives has introduced WeChat Pay, widely known as Weixin Pay in China, across its world-class resorts, SAii Lagoon Maldives, Curio Collection by Hilton, and Hard Rock Hotel Maldives. This payment option is made available to enhance the convenience and overall experience for guests from China, making their stay in the Maldives more enjoyable and hassle-free.

Understanding the needs of the diverse guests, CROSSROADS Maldives has integrated WeChat Pay into operations, allowing guests from China to easily and securely conduct transactions using a payment method familiar to them. The introduction of WeChat Pay is a testament to CROSSROADS Maldives’ dedication to enhancing guest satisfaction by offering exceptional experiences at every turn. What is also expected through this initiative is that the guests could benefit from better foreign exchange rates, translating to better savings on their expenditures during their stay.

The option is available for guests in-house conveniently at both resorts as well as across the Marina at CROSSROADS Maldives where a wider variety of unparalleled dining and retail experiences are available for all guests. The day visitors from China will also therefore equally benefit from this new introduction at the Maldives’ premier multi-island integrated leisure destination.

SAii Lagoon Maldives, Curio Collection by Hilton, is a vibrant tropical escape that offers unique and locally inspired experiences. The resort features spacious rooms and villas, a variety of dining options, and an array of recreational activities designed to cater to the desires of modern travellers. Guests can escape to the island’s SAiisational natural beauty, enjoy water sports, and indulge in spa treatments, all while relishing the personalised service that defines Hilton’s Curio Collection.

Hard Rock Hotel Maldives brings the iconic Hard Rock spirit to the tranquil shores of the Maldives. This family-friendly resort offers a perfect blend of relaxation and entertainment, featuring music-inspired experiences, live performances, and the brand’s signature amenities. With luxurious accommodations, diverse dining options, and a plethora of activities for all ages, Hard Rock Hotel Maldives ensures an unforgettable holiday experience for every guest.

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