Over 1,300 German travel agents complete e-learning course on Maldives tourism

More than 1,300 travel agents from Germany have successfully completed an e-learning course on Maldives, the official tourism promotion body of Maldives announced Thursday.

As part of the targeted marketing activities for the German-speaking market, Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) launched the e-learning course in December with FVW Akademie.

FVW is Germany’s largest travel trade magazine.

FVW Akademie is an independent one-stop source platform that provides education and further training in tourism for travel professionals. The online portal offers a unique mix of e-learning on destinations and product training targeting sales professionals.

Over 1300 participants were enrolled in the Maldives destination course, which was conducted for a six-month period.

To encourage maximum participation, a complimentary holiday raffle, sponsored by Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort & Spa, was carried out among the participants. The course delivered extensive training about the Maldives resorts, guesthouses, liveaboards and various other segments.

December, April and May saw the highest number of graduates.

“The participation from the German speaking travel agents in the e-learning course reached its target,” MMPRC said, in a statement.

The course delivered extensive training about resorts, guesthouses, liveaboards and various other segments in the Maldives.

“Training the travel trade on Maldives was one of the key activities of MMPRC, apart from the many other marketing activities that were implemented in 2019. With its success, MMPRC forecast that it can help to increase the arrival from German speaking markets in future,” the statement read.

Germany is one of the key traditional source markets for the Maldives tourism industry.

Arrivals from Germany saw 11.9 per cent year-over-year increase in 2019, as the number of Germans that holidayed in the Maldives rose to 131,561 — 7.7 per cent of the total arrivals — from 117,532 in 2018. This growth enabled Germany to retain its position as the fourth biggest source market.

The Maldives is preparing to reopen its borders to visitors in July.

The coronavirus outbreak has hit the Maldivian economy hard, as travel restrictions and other preventive measures affect the country’s lucrative tourism industry, which contributes the bulk of the island nation’s state revenue and foreign reserves.

All international airlines have suspended scheduled operations to the Maldives, as the island nation enforced a blanket suspension of on-arrival visa in late March in a bid to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Before the pandemic, the government had been bullish about tourism prospects, targeting two million, high-spending holidaymakers this year after last year’s record 1.7 million.

However, tourist arrivals saw a year-over-year decline of 22.8 per cent in the first 10 days of March. Officials say the number of tourist arrivals to the Maldives could drop by half in 2020.

With arrival numbers falling and the visa suspension in effect, several resorts across the Maldives had been closed.

Tourism has been the bedrock of the Maldives’ economic success. The $5 billion-dollar economy grew by 6.7 per cent in 2018 with tourism generating 60 per cent of foreign income.

However, the government is at present projecting a possible 13 per cent economic contraction this year — an estimated $778 million hit.

On March 8, Maldives reported its first cases of the novel coronavirus, as two hotel employees tested positive for Covid-19 at a luxury resort in the archipelago.

Eighteen more cases — all foreigners working or staying resorts and liveaboard vessels except five Maldivians who had returned from abroad — were later identified.

A six-case cluster of locals, detected in capital Male on April 15, confirmed community transmission of the coronavirus. Several more clusters have since been identified, bringing the total number of confirmed case in the Maldives to 2,137.

Eight deaths have been reported and 1,759 have made full recoveries.

The Maldives announced a state of public health emergency on March 12, the first such declaration under a recent public health protection law.

The public health emergency declaration allowed the government to introduce a series of unprecedented restrictive and social distancing measures, including stay-at-home orders in capital Male and its suburbs, a ban on inter-island transport and public gatherings across the country, and a nationwide closing of government offices, schools, colleges and universities.

Non-essential services and public places in the capital such as gyms, cinemas and parks were also shut.

Restaurants and cafes in the capital were asked to stop dine-in service and switch to takeaway and delivery.

A nationwide shutdown of all guesthouses, city hotels and spa facilities located on inhabited islands was also ordered.

These measures allowed authorities to contain the outbreak.

More than half of the people who contracted the virus have recovered and daily recoveries have over taken the number of new infections detected per day.

The restrictions are now being eased in phases, with the second phase lasting at least until June end.

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