Destination focus: The Maldives, an island paradise with year-round sunshine

Pristine white beaches, cyan waters, and luxury accommodation; the Maldives has long been the epitome of an indulgent get-away.

With its unrivalled beaches, it’s easy to see why the nation attracts over a million tourists every year. This year’s half-year figures show a 6.7% rise in tourist arrivals, continuing the trend from last year’s total growth rate of 4.2% and 2015’s 2.4%.  

The Maldives are not resting on their laurels – construction is currently under way for a new runway at the Velana International Airport to ease congestion and cater to this rise in tourist numbers. The runway will be completed by mid-2018 and will enable the country to welcome more than 7 million passengers in 2018.

What else is in store for holiday makers to the Indian Ocean nation in 2018? We spoke to Haris Mohamed, Acting Manager of the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC), ahead of their appearance at EMITT 2018, to find out.

What brings you back to EMITT in 2018 and what are you looking to promote?

Turkey is a very important market for the Maldives with growth seen over recent months. This year, from January to September we recorded 8,500 tourists arriving from Turkey, which is a 10.9% like for like increase. With such positive figures, our objective is to position the Maldives as the number one beach destination for Turkish travellers. 
What are the key geographical markets you are focusing on?

Our main market in terms of arrivals is China, followed by Germany, UK, India, Italy, Russia, France, Japan, USA, South Korea and Switzerland. Aside from these markets, we are also focussing on emerging and growing markets such as Turkey, Australia, Africa, the Middle East and South-East Asia.
What tourism products are you offering for 2018?

Maldives will be offering various new products in the coming year, with the opening of several resorts, each offering its own unique products.
We have several accommodation options ranging from ultra-luxurious resorts, mid-tier luxury resorts, to guest houses. We also have liveaboard holiday options for those looking for top-class diving experiences. The luxurious liveaboard boats are the best way to experience the more remote diving sites that are usually out of reach on shore-based diving trips.
What differentiates the Maldives from other destinations?

We have a one-island one-resort concept, which is uniquely Maldivian: each resort is located on its very own island, away from the bustling traffic and city life where there is complete peace and serenity, each offering a unique experience for guests.

The Maldives is the place to get up close to a diverse marine ecosystem; it’s the only place in the world where you can see whale sharks all year round, and manta rays can also be spotted throughout the year. Our stunning coral reefs and marine life are a real draw. On top of that we have year-round sunshine, even our wet season has a high rate of sunny days.

What are the most popular attractions or activities that bring people to the Maldives?

Firstly, it’s rest and relaxation in some of the most beautiful beaches the world has to offer.

As the Maldives is 99% water, many of the activities are water based. For a more exciting and adventurous trip, tourists can enjoy a variety of water sports such as parasailing, fly boarding and jet-skiing. For some unique attractions, the Maldives also offers a one of a kind underwater restaurant, spa, and wine cellar. We have warm seas and pristine reefs full of wildlife.
Several resorts also offer island hopping for guests to experience the locals’ way of life.
How will the airport expansion affect tourism in the Maldives in 2018?

With the increasing number of tourist arrivals, the expansion of the airport will benefit the growing tourism industry and result in an increase in arrivals.
The expansion will cover 90,000 sqm, with 9 new passenger boarding bridges, state-of-the-art baggage handling systems, expanded duty free shops, food and beverage outlets, a new Code-F runway measuring 3,400m x 60m, expansion of the main apron, fuel storage with 3 times the current capacity, and a new cargo terminal with a total area of 18,000 sqm able to handle 120,000 tonnes of air-cargo a year.
This expansion will mean we will be able to accommodate an additional 7.5 million passengers annually.
What type of companies will be exhibiting with you in the national pavilion?

Our contingent will consist of companies representing resorts, DMCs, travel agents, hotels, airports, and guest houses to promote the Maldives on the Turkish market.

Discover the Maldives’ travel opportunities at stand C240, Hall 2 at EMITT 2018.