Tourism promotion activities yield positive results for Maldives
Dubai, UAE – One of the main concerns of some of the tourism sector entrepreneurs is that the Maldives is not promoted adequately. According to them, it can be done more vigorously. Similar comments were heard from some exhibitors who participated at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM), the Middle East’s largest tourism fair now underway in Dubai.
On the other hand, the state-run marketing company Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC), which promotes Maldives as a tourism destination, also has concerns. The agency do not have that kind of budget. This has always been a complaint by MMPRC.
Despite additional challenges, MMPRC’s efforts have yielded very good results, said Thoyyib Mohamed, managing director of the company. At a press conference titled, Maldives Media Meet, held on Tuesday as part of the ATM fair, Thoyyib highlighted this to foreign journalists with statistics and numbers.
“The foundation of this success lies in the changes in marketing approaches made during the pandemic. With these changes, we are now able to move gears rapidly to different markets,” said Thoyyib.
The Maldives is one of the first countries to reopen its borders during the Covid-19 pandemic. The border was closed in March 2020 and reopened in July 2020. Thoyyib said the opening of the border in such a short span of time also led to positive results.
“At the end of last year, we were able to overcome the pandemic completely. Last year, we were able to attract tourist numbers that were only 2% lower than the record arrivals in pre-pandemic 2019,” Thoyyib said.
While the Maldives borders have been opened, the borders of other countries (especially major local tourism markets such as China) remained closed. MMPRC’s search for other markets was overshadowed by the start of the Russia-Ukraine war last year.
“Everyone knows that 2022 was not going to be an easy year to find new markets. The crisis (Russia-Ukraine war) in Eastern Europe had a huge impact on the number of tourists coming from countries in those regions,” Thoyyib said.
“We are grateful for what we have achieved despite these challenges. We have been the World’s Leading Destination for three consecutive years since 2020. We won the World’s Leading Tourism Board award last year.”
Pandemic taught new tricks
Thoyyib said that with the pandemic, MMPRC had learnt that they cannot stay in the comfort zone too long. With the lessons learnt from Covid and the changes that have been brought about by it, MMPRC can now work more closely with the tourists, he said. This has resulted in social media campaigns that have been customised separately for each market. If needed, they change their campaigns in a single day the way they want to.
“With major markets like China shutting down and eastern European markets facing challenges, we were able to shift our focus to completely new markets. The newer markets that are now part of our tourist arrivals will testify to our success,” Thoyyib said.
“In the last three years, altogether new markets have seen tremendous improvements in comparison to our traditional ones. It is heartening to note that one of these markets is in the Middle East.”
- Far-flung markets such as Brazil have seen significant gains
- Small markets in Eastern Europe have expanded over the past three years
- During this period, changes were also made in the way the country is marketed; from virtual activities on various platforms to physical events that are currently being attended by visiting places
“When we started participating in physical events, the costs went up. However, these platforms have made great progress,” Thoyyib said.
“It is because of the strength of our marketing that we have reached this milestone in tourism today. Last year alone, we had more than 178 different marketing activities around the world. More than 5.2 billion people were reached through these activities. The reach generated by our PR agencies across the world is more than 1.2 billion.”
2023: A promising year
After describing the work done last year, Thoyyib shared the results of the first quarter of this year. The results show, he said, “it’s been a promising year.”
“There has been an increase of 21% in tourist arrivals in the first quarter of this year ascompared to the same period last year. During the same period, tax revenue from tourism increased by 28%. As a small island nation with few sources of income, it is important to serve the masses and invest in the future,” Thoyyib said.
“With these positive numbers, the rapid growth in the economy has also been sustained. So the trajectory shows that this year’s results are going to be good.”