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 100,000 tourists in advance of the projections, the World’s Leading Destination 2020 is set for a major comeback this holiday season.
With 99,659 tourist arrivals since border reopening, Maldives has welcomed 482,506 tourists as of 11th December 2020 while 413 tourist establishments have re-opened and started their operations. This is more than 36,600 beds in various tourist facilities such as resorts, hotels and vessels.
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.
Maldives estimates to reach target of 500,000 by 25th December 2020
After border reopening, on August 2020, Maldives set a new target, to welcome 500,000 tourists in 2020. Tourism Minister Dr. Abdulla Mausoom estimated 120,000 tourists as the lowest possible estimate for the remainder of the year. In line with the steady improvement of tourists, Maldives has now maintained daily tourist arrivals above 2000. The island nation has reached target of 100,000 tourists by 12th December, way ahead of the forecast and it is anticipated that the tourist arrivals will reach the target of 500,000 by 25th December.
Flight movements on the rise with over 18 airlines currently operating
Looking into flight movements, Maldives Airports Company Limited has revealed that the traffic movements are on the rise. There has been a gradual increase in tourist arrivals with the establishment of travel bubbles between Maldives and other countries, as well as a greater connectivity in terms of flight operations. Over 18 airlines are currently traveling to and from Maldives, from all around the globe.
On 6th December, Velana International Airport broke the record of daily arrivals since the reopening which was a total of 3,006 tourists, whereas the air traffic movement on this date stood at 352.
Regional airports has also revealed the high traffic they are expected to experience this holiday season. Maafaru International Airport has seen an increase in jet landings since the country reopened its borders. The airport has welcomed 65 jets in November, resulting in a 59% increase in jet landings. Mumthaz Ali, General Manager of Maafaru International Aiport revealed that they are expecting to welcome 100 jets by the end of December.
88% resorts operational with occupancy above 80%
As of 11th December 2020, Maldives has 413 tourist facilities operational with 36, 814 beds. This is with 135 resorts/marinas accumulating to 31,104 beds followed by 146 guesthouses with 2,728 beds, 127 safari vessels with 2,379 beds and 5 hotels with 602 beds.
Out of the total 159 resorts in Maldives, this marks 84% operational. Speaking to heads of leading resort groups in the country, most resorts are already at above 80% occupancy. “We are above 80% with Russian market in the lead,” commented a General Manager of a locally owned resort.
“We are full from late December till mid of January,” a cluster sales manager operating 2 resorts in Maldives commented.
Director of Sales at Taj Hotels Group in Maldives, Mario Attanayake said, “We are already sold out on most dates during festive period including Christmas day, 31 December and 1 January 2021. The forecast for the next 3 months is also looking very positive. We are grateful for efforts taken by the Maldives government to establish travel bubbles and ensure Maldives remained as a safe destination with all the health and safety protocols been applied.”
Maldives tourism industry continues to witness a steady improvement, the recent win at the Maldives Travel Awards to the island destination as the World’s Leading Destination has certainly boosted the hopes for the industry. In addition to this, Maldives being geographically scattered and distanced, makes the destination safest for a post pandemic holiday. So the destination keeps making it to the top on the list for travel searches where travelers are in need of an escape to the pandemic and cold winter blues.
The fast comeback is the result of tireless works of the stakeholders and contributors in the industry. With the 500,000th tourist of 2020 expected to arrive by late December, Maldives tourism industry is now expected to move towards peak arrivals during the year of 2021.