MMPRC, the government body mandated with the promotion of Maldives as a tourist destination, has reformed itself to successfully adapt the new marketing opportunities presented in the digital era despite the unprecedented pandemic that brought disruption and a halt not just to the country, but to the world in the year 2020. The constant look-out of markets and the quick actions is believed to be the reason for the quick bounce back of the tourism industry post-pandemic.
By welcoming a record-breaking amount of 1.7 million tourists in 2019 for the first time since the inception of the industry, Maldives tourism was anticipated to experience the best year in 2020. However, with the breakout of the pandemic at the top tourist market to Maldives and the spread to the rest of the world, the destination was forced to close borders to the world on 27th March. This brought a complete halt to the industry. The COVID-19 impact on the Maldives tourism industry was described as the worst hit in the industry history.
This was followed by a complete halt to the marketing activities as well. Nevertheless, MMPRC immediately began adapting to the situation in hand. The marketing body transformed its marketing strategies to adapt to the new opportunities presented in the digital era. Though travelers were stranded at their homes- they weren’t disconnected, thanks to technology. The internet and connectivity presented a way to better reach the visitors at home and MMPRC chose to seize this opportunity to convert their tactics as such.
To promote to visit Maldives after the pandemic and to place it as a top-of-mind destination once traveling resumes after the pandemic, MMPRC carried out the #VisitMaldivesNow campaign with picturesque images from around the country. This was followed by a similar campaign: #BucketlistMaldives focusing on specific experiences in store for the travelers at the bucket list destination, once travel resumes.
As the fight to curb the spread of the pandemic seemed to have a better grip, MMPRC launched the Facebook live event: Maldives, The Sun Will Shine Again to announce to the world that Maldives is on the road to recovery and committed to welcoming tourists to the sunny side of life. This was again followed by webinar series and social media mini campaign “Rediscover Maldives”.
The result? Since Maldives reopened borders from 15th July 2020, the destination has continued to witness a steady improvement in its tourism industry. Surpassing the milestone of 500,000th tourists in 2020 in advance of the projections, the destination has sustained a major comeback this holiday season.
Maldives has also gained several accolades since the border reopening including, 4 prestigious awards in the Indian Ocean category in the World Travel Awards – the most prestigious honours programme in global travel and tourism, the ‘Best Honeymoon Destination’ at Travel+Leisure India’s Best Awards 2020 and ‘Best Partner of 2020’ Award at Fliggy’s Annual Awards. In addition to this, as per the Condé Nast Traveller’s annual Readers’ Choice Awards, this year resorts located in the Maldives dominated the Top 30 Resorts in The Indian Ocean, filling up a grand total of 26 slots. However, the destination’s biggest win came with being awarded the World’s Leading Destination at the World Travel Awards for the first time beating 22 countries.
MMPRC has continued to work closely with industry stakeholders and has planned various activities to promote Maldives further, in line with the changes in the situation, as the most preferred destination for travelers in all major markets. In spite of the difficult year at hand in 2020, MMPRC has conducted 412 activities in 22 target markets reaching 5,278,961,375 travelers.
The fast comeback is the result of tireless works of MMPRC together with the stakeholders and contributors in the industry. It is anticipated that the country will reach peak arrival rates during the year of 2021, taking the rate up to 1.5 million tourist arrivals once again.