Maldives sets out masterplan for tourism expansion

A senior delegation from The Maldive Islands gave ITB Berlin delegates an upbeat assessment of the island nation’s international tourism prospects at a Wednesday press conference.

Thoyyib Mohamed, Managing Director at Maldives Marketing & PR Corporation, said 1.4 million tourists visited in 2018, up 6.8% on the previous year. With plans for more resorts to be built across the Indian Ocean archipelago, he is projecting further growth to 1.5 million in 2019 – with figures from January 2019 suggesting the country is on track to hit its target.

Mohamed said the tourism industry is promoting itself as a destination for more than just honeymoons – by targeting areas like adventure, fun, spiritual and MICE tourism. He also made special reference to the German market, saying: “Germans are very close to the heart of the Maldives. They remain an important market for us, with 14% year on year growth.”

Industry pioneer Hussain Afeef said the Maldives Islands attract an extremely diverse visitor base: “It is not only Europeans who come, but a growing number of Asians. Another positive is growth from the South African market, which is a significant development for the economy in the South of our country.” South Africa is

also becoming an important gateway for Latin American visitors who want to visit The Maldives, Afeef said.

Minister of Tourism Ali Waheed said the government has set out a strong sustainable masterplan to drive tourism growth while also “cherishing culture and protecting the environment”. The country’s new Tourism Development Plan identifies ve zones that are being developed as different destinations – along the lines outlined by Mohamed.

THE COUNTRY’S NEW TOURISM DEVELOPMENT PLAN IDENTIFIES FIVE ZONES THAT ARE BEING DEVELOPED AS DIFFERENT DESTINATIONS

In addition, a new Decentralisation Act has given extra powers to local councils while developments are taking place at Velana International Airport. To mitigate the impact of tourism growth there is a green tax to fund environmental initiatives.