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Positive Growth in Tourism for the First Quarter of 2012

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Maldives Promotion House – Maldives Marketing & Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) has released the inbound market analysis for this year. According to the report a total of 255,867 tourist arrivals were registered from January to March 2012. This is an increase of 3.3 percent compared to the same period in 2011.

Central and Eastern Europe recorded a growth of 15.7 percent, Western Europe registered 10 percent, East Mediterranean Europe recorded 30.6 percent, North East Asia 12.8 percent, South East Asia 12.1 percent, Oceania 26.2 percent, Americas 8.8 percent, and Middle East 77.8 percent.

However, Southern Europe the centre of European Economic crisis recorded a negative growth of 24.9 percent. Northern Europe also recorded -9.2 percent mainly due to economic recession in the UK.

Germany

26,355 arrivals were registered form Germany for the first quarter of 2012. This is a 20.4 percent positive growth compared to the same period in 2011. With these favourable figures, Germany ranks the third largest market to the Maldives with a market share of 10.3 percent. The reasons for the increase in arrivals are the strong economic conditions in Germany together with the increase in frequency of flights between the two countries.

Switzerland

11,803 arrivals were registered form Switzerland in the first quarter of 2012. This is a 24.5 percent growth compared to the same period in 2011. The reasons for increase in arrivals from Switzerland are due to its healthy economy and easy connectivity and direct flights from Zurich.

China

The total arrival from China market for the period January to March is 46,662 which is a 16.4 percent growth. Although there is a positive growth in the overall arrivals, the number of tourists who visited the Maldives decreased in February and March due to cancellation of charter flights. The Chinese market is expected to perform well in the upcoming months due to resuming of charter airlines with more frequency and flights from additional cities and strong demand for Maldives. The tour operators’ forecast indicates a phenomenal growth in June and July. Recent road shows in five major Cities in China have built visitor and investor confidence in the Maldives. Chinese market is expected to remain by far the largest source market for Maldives.

Russia

The first quarter of 2012, the Russian Market registered a total of 19,919 arrivals with a positive growth of 19.7 percent contributing to 7.8 percent of the market share. Russian market remains unaffected despite the recession in Europe. Eastern European region remains the most important emerging market for Maldives. Maldives took part in MITT Russia fair in March 2012. Russian Market is expected to perform well in the coming months.

South Korea

The total arrival from South Korea market for the period January to March is 4,329 is a 21.7 percent growth. South Korea Market is expected to perform extremely well this year. There is possibility of direct flights from South Korea to Maldives which would further boost the market. Maldives representation at Korean Expo 2012 to be held in Yeosu and KOTFA Fair to be held in Seoul is likely to energize the Korean market.

France

For the first quarter of 2012, Maldives had a total of 25,195 arrivals from France, which is a reduction of -1.3 percent compared to the same period in 2011. French market contributes a total of 9.8 percent to the total market share. France is second most important market in Western Europe after Germany. The slight reduction in the French market is due to the European economic crisis and being the presidential election year in France. Despite the slight reduction, the French market is an important market which has the potential to record a positive growth end of the year.

UK

When comparing the arrivals figures for the past five years, UK registered the highest arrival figures in 2008 accounting for 116,821 visitors. In 2009, the figure dropped to 105,950 and in 2010 there was a slight increase to 114,158 again a reduction in 2011 accounting for 104,508 visitors. Due to economic recession in the UK, the total arrivals from UK market for the first quarter of 2012 registered 24,395 which is a 12 percent decrease. The British market will continue to experience declines to 2015 largely because of the economic recession. UK economy enters recession after contracting for second consecutive quarter. GDP fell by 0.2 percent in first quarter of 2012. According to UNWTO, UK (Longhaul) outbound market is expected to contract in 2012.

Italy

In the first quarter of 2012 Italy recorded a total of 26,939 visitors to Maldives which accounts for 10.5 percent of market share. The Italian market is the hardest hit market for Maldives due to economic crisis in Italy. The decline in arrival figure is also due to closure of club style resorts in Maldives. It is also linked to bankruptcy of major tour operators in Italy. Italian market is not expected to perform well this year. Strict fiscal policies of Italian government also discourage longhaul outbound tourism.

Japan

The total arrivals from Japan for the first quarter of 2012 are 8,114 which is 5 percent decline. Japan market has been a stagnant market for the past 5 years. 2011 earthquake and the tsunami in Japan is a major factor of the decrease in arrivals to Maldives. In order to increase arrivals from Japan it is vital that we re-strategize market segmentation and product adaptation.

India

During the first quarter of 2012 Maldives recorded a total of 6,179 arrivals from India, which is a10.4 percent decline compared to same period of 2011. India contributes 2.4 percent of the total market share of the Maldives tourism. The reason for the market decline in India is financial difficulties faced by some of the airlines. Limited air connectivity between major Indian cities and Maldives is also hindering factor in growth of Indian market. However, it is expected Indian market will perform favourably in the upcoming months.

Austria

7,152 arrivals were registered form Austria from January-March 2012. This is an 11.4 percent growth compared to the same period in 2011. Although Austria is a small market, with its favourable economic conditions and high percentage of the population with disposable income and propensity to travel, the market has maintained a positive growth.

South East Asia

In terms of population the main countries in the region are Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. 4,515 arrivals were registered between January to March 2012. This is a 12.1 percent increase to the same period in 2011. South East Asian market shares 1.8 percent of the total arrivals to the Maldives.

Americas

USA is a huge market that needs to be tapped into with the right strategy. Many of the obstacles that have been faced include the distance and lack of direct and convenient routes topped with the lack of marketing budget to launch an aggressive campaign to penetrate to this market. Despite the obstacles, 3,566 arrivals were registered from the USA from January to March. This is a 6.6 percent increase compared to the same period in 2011. Much interest has been generated amongst the Americans with the emerging trend in live aboard cruises in the Maldives.

Middle East

The first quarter of 2012 Maldives attracted a total of 4,344 arrivals from Middle East market which recorded an unparalleled growth of 77.8 percent compared to the same period last year. In particular it is important to note the exceptional growth from the Saudi Arabian market.

The opening of Middle Eastern based hotel chains in Maldives is a contributing factor for the positive growth. Middle East remains as 1.7 percent of the total market share.

Spain and Portugal

The first quarter of 2012 Maldives attracted 1219 and 609 from Spain and Portugal respectively. A decrease in outbound travel from Spain has been observed by 1.33 percent compared to the same period in 2010. Historically these two markets have been relatively small markets for Maldives.

South Africa

The total arrival from South Africa market for the period January to March is 576 is a 21.2 percent decrease. South Africa is a potential market with better air connectivity.

Northern Europe

The total arrival from Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden market for the period January to March is 1,237, 596, 800, 1,866 respectively. Denmark and Norway showed a positive growth where as there is decline in Finland and Sweden market. Scandinavian economies are recovering their former level of economic growth and are expected to maintain sound growth in coming years. The main obstacle for the market growth is the limited air connectivity. With better air connectivity these are potential markets to the Maldives.

Easter Mediterranean Europe

The total arrivals from Israel recorded 713 during the first quarter of 2012 which is a growth of 61.7 percent compared to same period last year. Turkey also recorded a positive growth of 20 percent accounting for 1,088 visitors to Maldives. The reason for the growth in Turkish market is the opening of Turkey owned resort in Maldives. Turkey also remains an extremely potential market with better air connectivity. Charter operations are expected from Turkey during the year which would contribute to the positive growth.

Maldives has a target of attracting 1 million tourists during 2012. A strategic digital and social media campaign is in place. Road shows and other strategic marketing activities are been planned for the year ahead. Maldives Marketing & PR Corporation has a policy to carry out joint promotions and marketing campaigns with airlines, tour operators and other stakeholders.

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CROSSROADS Maldives appoints Ibrahim Farhad as Director of Retail

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CROSSROADS Maldives has announced the appointment of Ibrahim Farhad as the new Director of Retail at the Maldives’ premier integrated multi-island leisure destination. Farhad, known for his extensive experience in both the public and private sectors, brings a wealth of expertise in sustainable tourism management to his new role. He will oversee the retail operations at The Marina at CROSSROADS Maldives, enhancing the leisure, dining, shopping, and entertainment experiences for visitors from around the world.

Farhad’s impressive background includes significant contributions to policy formulation and stakeholder engagement during his tenure as the Senior Policy Director at the Maldives Ministry of Tourism. In this role, he was pivotal in developing and implementing policies that promoted sustainable tourism. He collaborated closely with government agencies and international organizations to ensure regulatory compliance, and his expertise in research, analysis, quality assurance, and capacity building has been instrumental in shaping the tourism sector in the Maldives.

In his new role at CROSSROADS Maldives, Farhad will oversee the strategic development of retail spaces, ensuring they offer a diverse and high-quality visitor experience. He will collaborate with local and international partners to bring unique products to The Marina, aligning with the destination’s commitment to sustainability and cultural authenticity.

“As a native Maldivian coupled with his extensive experience and deep-rooted community connections, Farhad is a great addition to our team at CROSSROADS Maldives. I am excited to see the fresh perspectives and innovative strategies he will introduce at The Marina, which will further strengthen CROSSROADS Maldives’ position as the premier integrated multi-island leisure destination,” said Alexander Traeger, General Manager of CROSSROADS Marina and SAii Lagoon Maldives, Curio Collection by Hilton.

CROSSROADS Maldives looks forward to the innovative and sustainable approaches Farhad will bring to the retail operations, enhancing the overall experience for all visitors.

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Utheemu Ganduvaru: Portal to Maldives’ national freedom

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The Maldives, often celebrated for its sun-kissed beaches and turquoise waters, also offers a rich tapestry of history and culture waiting to be explored. Among the islands of Haa Alif Atoll lies Utheemu Island, home to Utheemu Ganduvaru, a historical treasure that invites travellers to delve into the storied past of the archipelago.

Utheemu Ganduvaru, the ancestral home of Muhammad Thakurufaanu, stands as a poignant reminder of the Maldives’ fight for independence. Thakurufaanu, revered as a national hero, led a successful campaign against Portuguese occupation in the 16th century. His childhood home, Utheemu Ganduvaru, offers a rare glimpse into the life and times of this legendary figure.

In 1558, the Portuguese invaded the Maldives, killing the Sultan in battle and establishing their rule. Muhammad Thakurufaanu and his brothers, Ali and Hassan, left for Minicoy to prepare a campaign to liberate their country. The boat they built, Kalhuohfummi, was crucial to their efforts. Thakurufaanu and his brothers fought the Portuguese for eight years, landing on different islands under cover of night to evade capture, and departing before daybreak. Eventually, they landed in Malé and defeated the Portuguese leadership in the capital. Freed from Portuguese rule, the people chose Muhammad Thakurufaanu as their Sultan.

Sultan Muhammad Thakurufaanu ruled the Maldives for 12 years until his death in 1585. He is remembered as a considerate and just ruler, concerned for the well-being of even the poorest citizens. He is also credited with establishing the country’s first formal military unit.

Back at Utheemu Island, visitors are immediately struck by the island’s tranquil beauty and its lush, green landscape. The journey to Utheemu Ganduvaru is a step back in time, where the echoes of history are palpable. The residence itself, a traditional wooden palace, is meticulously preserved, showcasing the architectural ingenuity and cultural richness of the period.

As you enter Utheemu Ganduvaru, the simplicity and elegance of the structure are apparent. Built from timber, the palace is a fine example of traditional Maldivian craftsmanship. The intricate woodwork, with its detailed carvings and polished surfaces, speaks volumes about the artisanship that flourished during Thakurufaanu’s time.

The main hall, with its open layout and cool, shaded interiors, offers a sense of serenity and reflection. It was within these walls that Thakurufaanu spent his formative years, and each room tells a story of his early life and the influences that shaped his destiny. The residence includes living quarters and storage spaces, all arranged in a manner that reflects the daily life of a prominent Maldivian family in the 16th century.

One of the most compelling aspects of Utheemu Ganduvaru is its connection to the larger narrative of Maldivian resistance against foreign rule. Guides at the site often recount tales of Thakurufaanu’s daring exploits and strategic brilliance. His knowledge of the archipelago’s intricate waterways and his leadership in naval battles are celebrated as key factors in the successful expulsion of the Portuguese in 1573.

Beyond its historical significance, Utheemu Ganduvaru offers visitors a deeper understanding of Maldivian culture and heritage. The site is a testament to the resilience and unity of the Maldivian people, embodying values that continue to inspire. For travellers, a visit to Utheemu Ganduvaru is an opportunity to connect with the soul of the Maldives, experiencing the essence of its history and the spirit of its people.

While on Utheemu Island, visitors can explore other points of interest, such as the island’s beaches and vibrant local community. Engaging with the locals offers additional insights into Maldivian traditions and hospitality, enriching the overall experience.

For those seeking a journey through time, Utheemu Ganduvaru in Haa Alif Atoll is a destination that should not be missed. It is a place where the past comes alive, where the legacy of a hero continues to resonate, and where the true essence of the Maldives can be discovered. As you walk through the halls of Utheemu Ganduvaru, you are not just a visitor; you are a part of a historical journey that defines the Maldivian identity.

So, when planning your next visit to the Maldives, venture beyond the beaches and dive into the rich history of these islands. Let Utheemu Ganduvaru be the highlight of your cultural exploration, offering a meaningful and memorable connection to the heart of Maldivian heritage.

Cover photo: Andreas Faessler

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Embark on a journey of pure joy at Sirru Fen Fushi

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The newly-reimagined Sirru Fen Fushi Private Lagoon Resort, a member of the esteemed Leading Hotels of the World (LHW) collection, invites you to rediscover luxury in the Maldives. Nestled on a pristine island amidst crystal-clear lagoons, this haven of effortless elegance and contemporary allure promises an unforgettable escape.

Curated Experiences Await

From the moment guests touch down in Malé, Sirru Fen Fushi curates your journey around four pillars: Taste, Wellness, Art, and Play. Savor world-class cuisine alongside authentic Maldivian flavors at revamped restaurants. Rejuvenate with holistic wellness practices like frequency sound healing and Ayurvedic treatments. Become a steward of the environment through marine conservation initiatives, or witness turtle nesting with the resort’s marine biologist.

Unparalleled Comfort and Personalized Luxury

Unwind in the unparalleled comfort of Beach, Water, and Safari Tented Villas, each designed for an intimate escape in harmony with the breathtaking surroundings. Choose experiences based on Fire, Water, Earth, and Air themes, creating lasting memories tailored to your preferences.

Joining the Leading Hotels of the World

Sirru Fen Fushi is thrilled to be part of the prestigious LHW collection. “This exclusive hideaway promises a bespoke journey of luxury and serenity,” says Deniz Omurgonulsen, Vice President of Member Experience at LHW. “We are excited to add this private island paradise to our collection.”

Rediscovering Your Inner Child

Through the Essence of Play, reconnect with your inner child. Learn Maldivian crafts, gather around fire pits for acoustic guitar evenings, or dance under the stars at Plankton Glow Parties. Every experience ignites the soul and fosters connection.

A Celebration of Local Flavors

Tantalize your taste buds and explore local flavors through various activities. Reel in the day’s catch on a fishing excursion, or witness the theatrical spectacle of a Malafaaiy Bodu Beru feast, featuring traditional cuisine, drumming, singing, and clapping.

Holistic Wellness and Artistic Inspiration

Sirru Fen Fushi fosters rejuvenation through holistic treatments and a connection to nature. Full Moon Meditations and Pool Rituals promote a transformative journey. Art is woven into the resort’s DNA, from the underwater Coralarium museum to the Sustainability Lab, where you can create meaningful keepsakes.

Protecting Paradise

Committed to preserving the archipelago’s natural wonders, the resort offers eco-conscious initiatives. Participate in coral restoration projects, explore the neighboring Maroshi island with its mud crab delicacies and vast mangrove forests, and learn the importance of marine conservation.

Experience Sirru Fen Fushi, where unforgettable memories and a deep connection with nature await. Visit: https://sirrufenfushi.com/

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