India retains the lead as the top tourism market of Maldives


Fathimath Afra, Chief Marketing Officer, Maldives Marketing & Public Relations of MMPRC.

MTPB is taking a 360° approach to marketing this year for the Indian market.

 2022 marked 50 years of tourism for the Maldives, the idyllic Indian Ocean tourist destination, often hailed as ‘paradise on earth’. Each year, the isles welcome throngs of visitors from all over the globe, seeking all things ranging from luxurious getaways to action-packed adventures.

With tourism contributing to over 70 per cent of the country’s GDP, tourist arrival numbers have always been an important indicator for determining the industry’s success and pinpointing improvements required to increase the destination’s appeal.

Post Covid pandemic that left quite a huge impact on the world, the Maldives, with its secluded island resorts, surrounded by sea, offered a safe destination for travellers wanting to escape from the monotonous lethargy of the pandemic.

India, the Maldives’ closest neighbour lies approximately 2000 kilometres away from the island nation. It requires only a short, relaxing flight to land at Velana International Airport (VIA), from which tourists can easily catch a speedboat or seaplane to their desired island or resort. The short travel distance and affordable flights put the Maldives at the top of weekend getaways for Indian visitors.

MTPB is taking a 360° approach to marketing this year for the Indian market. With the physical events coming up, fairs will be a big part of our marketing and then we have roadshows, partnerships with online travel agencies, working closely with airlines and tour operators and print media, and organizing fam trips said Fathimath Afra, Chief Marketing Officer, Maldives Marketing & Public Relations of MMPRC, in an exclusive to Travel Span.

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The Indian market, its largest source market, Maldives is keen to penetrate different regions and segments in India to keep the number of Indian travellers growing. It is a romantic and family-oriented destination, said Afra. It is a private destination with pristine nature and various activities and experiences that makes Maldives a preferred destination for Indian travellers.

The Maldives is a collection of more than a thousand islands (1190 islands, 200 islands people live on, 160 resort islands and rest are untouched virgin islands) in the Indian Ocean and is known for its clear emerald waters, beautiful beaches that stretch as far as the eye can see, and of course, luxurious overwater bungalows. Hopping the islands is one of the activities which Indians can enjoy in the Maldives.

As the post-pandemic tourist arrival numbers continue to surge exponentially. India has been the leading source market for the Maldives for the past three years in a row. Indians constituted the majority of international tourist arrivals to the Maldives in 2020, 2021, and 2022. A total of 241,369 Indian tourists travelled to the island nation in 2022, representing 14.4 per cent market share, according to the Maldives’ Ministry of Tourism (MoT).

The target for total arrivals in 2023 is 1.8 million and we are hoping that India will take a big chunk of that number.

The average duration of a tourist’s stay has increased from 6.3 days in 2019 to 8.7 days in 2022. Judging by the uptick in visitors, current trends, and statistics, it is expected that the total number of arrivals this year may exceed.

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The isles also offer a wide variety of stays with 164 resorts for those looking for luxury and rejuvenation and 830 guesthouses in local islands for those who prefer a more immersive experience of the Maldivian culture and lifestyle. Adventurers and explorers can go on a cruise on one of the 150 safaris and liveaboards operating in the country.

Luxury resorts in the isles are the embodiment of high-end hospitality, providing every service a guest might require.

In these resorts, guests can have an otherworldly vacation, enjoying a floating breakfast in the pool, lounging in overwater villas, tasting gastronomic dishes prepared by skilled chefs, and forgetting all of life’s worries with relaxing spa experiences. For travellers yearning for a tropical escape, luxury resorts are the epitome of vacation goals.

One of the key features of the promotional activities for the Maldives this year is a unique storytellers’ conference which will feature 50 storytellers and content creators from around the world, added Afra.

The Visit Maldives Storyteller Conference to be held on 14th May 2023 would bring together 50+ content creators from around the world to the Sunny Side, for the largest gathering of travel writers, journalists, bloggers, influencers, and media experts, she added. The most creative individuals in the travel and tourism trade from across the globe would be invited to the Maldives to immerse themselves in the beauty, experiences, and hospitality unique to 7 regions in the Sunny Side of Life. The 50+ international storytellers are selected via a social media contest.  The idea is to redefine minds, and the organisers are working hard to develop it.

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 The Chief Marketing Officer informed about the Maldives’ efforts to spread awareness and cater to tier 1 and tier 2 cities. Besides the country being a high-end destination; it is now being promoted as a luxurious destination offering many options and experiences. The Maldives has a range of accommodation options, including the one-island, one-resort concept, local islands, and hotels, each offering a different experience.

 On Maldives being a weddings and honeymoon destination, Afra said, the Maldives is a great destination for weddings and honeymoons. The splendid location with its tropical climate makes for a wonderful destination wedding option. You will have the time of your life witnessing magnificent coral reefs, endless blues, tall palm trees, pristine nature and white sandy beaches.

 The Maldives has won several travel awards and accolades, which have added more brand value to Visit Maldives. These titles have been prestigious for the destination and have shown the love that people have for the Maldives, informed Afra.

The Maldives earned the title of ‘World’s Leading Destination’ at the 2021 World Travel Awards, recognised as the hallmark of industry excellence – a shining testimony of the trust placed in Maldivian hospitality by travellers.

Every visitor can enjoy the Maldives’ unmatched beauty – tropical palms breaking through lush greenery, gentle waves beaching onto immaculate shores, and coral reefs pulsating to the rhythm of the ocean, she concluded.