The Maldives Tourism Promotion Board’s presence at this year’s Arabian Travel Market in Dubai was its strongest ever. From the 1st to the 4th May, 2007 the Maldivian delegation profiled a wide range of products and services to the Gulf region’s travel trade. A total of 44 participants from the hospitality industry, representing some 24 companies, were on the stand to meet with tour operators, travel agencies and media.
The 2007 Arabian Travel Market confirmed record breaking attendance figures of more than 12,000 visitors during the first three days of the show which were focused on visiting travel trade. There was a significant growth in visitors from around the Gulf region, which reflects each country’s buoyant economy and the strong demand for outbound travel. The Maldives is a relatively new leisure destination for the Gulf Region and the Maldives Tourism Promotion Board is now placing greater emphasis on driving destination awareness across the Gulf Co-operative Council (GCC) countries of the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Saudi Arabia.
The Maldives is easily accessible from the Arabian Gulf with a short flight time of around four hours. With daily flights from a combination of airlines, the consumer choice continues to grow as more tour operators and travel agencies feature the destination. The Maldives is currently the ultimate getaway for those who are attracted by private islands, stunning beaches and crystal clear waters. The Maldives provides the perfect backdrop for a relaxing, rejuvenating holiday, which is a welcome contrast to the frantic pace of life in the Arabian Gulf.
Travellers from the GCC account for a small part of the current total visitor numbers to the islands. However, with a high percentage of the population being Muslim and with no visa restrictions, the destination is preparing to attract many more visitors from the Gulf region. Dr Mahmood Shougee, Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation for the Republic of the Maldives said “Over the past 30 years, tourism has played a vital role in the sustained development of the Maldives economy. Today we enjoy high hotel occupancy levels and this is set to continue. The low season of June, July and August is relatively short and this coincides with the high season for outbound travel from the GCC.” Dr Shougee added “Our short term strategy is to continue to encourage new business from the Gulf region, by placing greater emphasis on the development of strong relationships with the region’s travel trade. We need to give them the tools to effectively sell the destination.”
Today, the Maldives attracts visitors who want to enjoy the peace and tranquility of an island paradise. With luxury hotels and resorts, award-winning Spa’s and probably the best snorkeling and scuba diving in the world, the Maldives offers total relaxation. Currently, the islands attract more resident expatriates living in the Gulf region than GCC nationals. Dr Shougee commented “Our medium term strategy is to grow the business from the Gulf region by developing resorts which are focused on the preferences of Arab nationals.” “Today we attract Arab honeymooners and water sport enthusiasts, however we see the opportunity to develop family-focused resorts which are located on the inhabited islands, where GCC nationals can interact with the local Muslim community and enjoy many of the activities associated with town life”.
Investment in the tourism infrastructure of the Maldives continues to gather pace. Today there are many new projects underway and future foreign investment is being encouraged by the Maldivian Government. Dr Shougee concluded by saying “GCC real estate developers are currently transforming the face of the Gulf region. We will be sharing our vision for the future development of the Maldives with many of these organisations and offering them exciting investment opportunities here”. “We are confident that the marketing activities that are now being implementing in the region will ensure that there is a greater awareness of our beautiful islands, which will stimulate foreign investment and more inbound travel from both resident expatriates and GCC nationals.”
For further information contact:
Afkar Marketing Company W.L.L.
Tel: +971 502977129
Tel: +973 39630801
e-mail: [email protected]