After being closed since March 15, 2020, due to the pandemic, the Maldives re-opened its borders on July 15, 2020, with a target of 500,000 tourists for the year. Significant growth in tourist arrivals have been notified during September and October. Do you think the Maldives can reach its target? How should the industry work to achieve this and what are the challenges, if any?

PUBLISHED November 08, 2020

Asad Ali
Deputy Secretary General
Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI)
We think that whilst there have been positive steps, that this is a very optimistic target as the performance of our Tourism Industry depends on a number of factors, some of which are out of our control. We must ensure that as a nation we continue to be vigilant and follow the guidelines to keep our numbers low. The industry has been working incredibly hard to do all that we can to ensure that we are ready and fully prepared to welcome back our guests and we are committed to keeping the measures in place to give our staff and guests reassurance. With current infection rates across our markets, our challenges lie in the decisions made by source market Governments, with regard to quarantine and travel restrictions, that have a direct impact on their travel to the Maldives.
We have seen the Maldives progressing on tourist arrivals against all odds since July. It has been a challenging journey but a rewarding one too. We are seeing progress as we move ahead and it has been a learning curve with a joint effort from all stakeholders. The said target will be achievable given that we constantly keep up with the changes and developments based on industry feedback. Many competing destinations are still closed and the appetite for the Maldives is at an all-time high. Travellers will come, as long as we keep the case numbers low. Still, when a traveller looks at coming to the Maldives, they look at this number regardless of the fact that our majority spread is in Malé, which is isolated from other islands. Safety and health need to be prioritised and we need to keep the momentum going to be able to achieve this target.
As I mentioned two months ago, I am more confident that we can reach 100,000 tourists instead. Growing the country’s airlines network will definitely help us. The newly growing markets will be GCC and CIS for now.
The bold and the far sighted decision taken by the Government of Maldives to open the borders earlier than many other countries, while simultaneously and very methodically working towards containing the virus within the Maldives by listening to the experts, and building the right infrastructure within a very short period of time to combat the pandemic, are exactly the reasons why we are getting these positive results in the tourism industry today. The work done by various government authorities and agencies, together with the private sector, to market Maldives in these trying times are also commendable. I am confident that we will achieve 500,000 plus tourist arrivals this year and if this current trend continues, I am also extremely confident that we will cross 1 million plus tourist arrivals in 2021 In Sha Allah.
Yes – we can even reach over a million tourists within this period! The destination must use today’s marketing tactics using social media influencers and get them to create viral clips. Also, build strong confidence in visitors regarding the safety of this destination. We, as individual companies, are conducting marketing and promotional activities through Hollywood stars.