Maldives visitors exceed 600,000 for 2006

The Maldives entered 2007 in buoyant spirits, having welcomed 601,923
visitors to the archipelago of 1,190 islands; an increase of 52.3% on
2005.  This steady growth indicates the high regard for, and confidence
in, the future of tourism on this small island state whose total
population is around 300,000.

There were a total of 107,995 UK visitors to the Maldives during January
to December 2006, up 23.8% on the same period in 2005.  The UK remains
a key market, second only to Italy which produced arrivals of 118,929,
whilst Germany (70,830) and France (43,627) also saw an overall
increase.  Europe remains the number one market for the Maldives,
representing 76% of the total share with 457,535 of arrivals coming from
Europe.  Emerging markets include Japan, China and Korea with visitation
from Asia as a whole up 68.9% on 2005. 

The Maldives has such a healthy occupancy year round, that bookings are
stretched to capacity. Indeed, The Pacific Asia Travel Association
(PATA) predicts that arrivals to Maldives are likely to increase by 6.8%
in 2007 bringing the expected figure to around 658,600 for 2007. In
order to accommodate the additional visitors, whilst ensuring that
tourism is spread more evenly across the atolls,  35 new resorts will
open in the coming years satisfying the demand for more luxury and
affordable resorts.  The government however remains cautious and all new
builds will have to conform to strict planning controls and be
sympathetic to the environment. 

 

As this new era in tourism expansion begins, the government looks
forward to spreading tourism more equally across several atolls so the
economic effect can be enjoyed more evenly by islanders themselves. The
new resorts in the outer atolls will create more employment
opportunities locally and also ease congestion in and around the capital
Male. Several innovative resorts will be built in the newly designated
Southern Tourism Zone serviced by an international standard airport at
Gan on Addu Atoll. The first of these is Herathera an 300 room
affordable hotel due to open by September 07.  Coupled with the new
Shangri-La which will begin operation in early 2008, these two new
resorts will be blade runners in the new- style resorts on Addu whose
local population is second only to Male, with 18,000 thousand
inhabitants.

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Plans continue to unfold for the development of ten medium-range and ten
luxury hotels satisfying the demand for both affordable and bespoke,
signature resorts.  The remaining 15 newly designated tourism islands
will include some community integrated hotels co-owned by The Maldivian
people who will hold a 55% majority share in this new initiative,
highlighting the long-term goal to see tourism integrated with local
island life. The government will keep control of the remaining shares in
this new venture.

Room occupancy for 2006 for the existing resorts hovered around 90%, and
encouragingly the Maldives experienced an extended peak season.  These
promising statistics, combined with a commitment by tour operators to
support this growth with additional air capacity will ensure demand for
the extra 5000 - 7,000 beds on new resorts.

For 2007, the Maldives Tourism Promotion Board will continue to invest
in the UK market with a number of new and established initiatives taking
place across the UK to boost visitor arrivals still further.  A UK
consumer outdoor and press advertising campaign in partnership with
SriLankan Airlines is set to break in spring 2007, whilst the Maldives
will continue its presence at consumer exhibitions including the Luxury
Travel Show and trade roadshows including World Travel Market.

 

Dr Mahamood Shougee, Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation commented:
‘The forthcoming years represent a very important era for tourism in the
Maldives.  The new resorts will create a further 8,000 tourism jobs for
local Maldivians, whilst the newly formed Maldives Tourism Development
Corporation will bring tourism to local islands and ensure the
population can also benefit from tourism revenue.  We will also strive
to ensure that growth is carefully managed to ensure that the delicate
beauty of the Maldives remains for many generations to come’.

 

Dr. Abdulla Mausoom, Director General, Maldives Tourism Promotion Board
commented: ‘It is an exciting time for tourism in the Maldives. We
appreciate the loyalty of the UK market which has remained strong and
the challenge now is to broaden the appeal of the Maldives to a wider
discerning audience including more families and special interest groups
over the coming years .’

 

For more information about visiting the Maldives please see
www.visitmaldives.com  
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