Aishath Neesha Mohammad Shahid, Deputy Managing Director of Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) spoke exclusively with Travel And Tour World during the recently held ‘Journey to the Sunny Side’ roadshow in India. Read on the full interview to know more about their latest developments and offerings in the tourism industry.
Travel And Tour World – In May the tourists arrivals to Maldives grew by 11% as compared to the same period last year, so which are the leading markets for Maldives?
Aishath Neesha Mohammad Shahid: China, Germany, India are the top three source markets for Maldives taking the first, second and third position respectively.Factors like connectivity drove the growth and airlines like Go Air and Air India started operations last year.
Travel And Tour World: Tell us about your strategies to position Maldives as a premium destination worldwide.
Aishath Neesha Mohammad Shahid: Maldives is already perceived as a high end luxury destination, we are not just maintaining that image but we are also including budget travellers.Tourism is the main source of income for Maldives and it contributes 23 percent of the GDP. It is an important segment in terms of revenue generation.The budget has been increased this year for marketing the destination and on the guest house sector for the budget travellers.
Travel And Tour World: Maldives was tagged as Indian ocean leading destination for beach, honey moon and dives during the world travel awards. What more can we expect?
Aishath Neesha Mohammad Shahid: Maldives geography is majorly 99 percent water and 1 percent land, currently more focus is on diversifying tourism product and customizing customer needs .In Male we expect five new hotels to come up along with international brands, retails shops and international restaurants chains which will be the first-of-its- kind in Maldives.
Travel And Tour World – Any plans of launching new air connections?
Aishath Neesha Mohammad Shahid: Vistara has shown interest recently and we started the Blue Panaroma a chartered operation which has direct connections from Poland. Maldives airports and civil aviation is trying to accommodate new airlines, the airport is currently under development and a new runway is being developed. This will be completed within a span of 1-2 years and by that time it can accommodate 7 million tourists.
Travel And Tour World – What are the opportunities and challenges faced by the hospitality, travel and tourism industry in Maldives?
Aishath Neesha Mohammad Shahid: We have to be ahead of the market, there is Bali,Phuket and others so why one should visit Maldives is the challenge we face. So, all hoteliers are diversifying their products.
Travel And Tour World – Apart from scuba-diving, snorkeling and eco- tourism do you intend to add new activities to attract visitors?
Aishath Neesha Mohammad Shahid: We are focusing on health and family tourism, most of the resorts have kids club and baby sitter services.
Travel And Tour World – What is the current state of the overall industry after a state of emergency was declared in 2018?
Aishath Neesha Mohammad Shahid: Whatever happened was in Male, the capital of the country while the resorts and islands are located far off which was a positive point and everything is back to normal.