The Maldives Marketing & Public Relations Corporation is the national tourism board of the Maldives. MMPRC is responsible for maintaining destination presence throughout the world and promoting the Maldives as the most preferred island destination in the world under the theme of “The Maldives … The Sunny Side of Life”. MMPRC adheres to the mission in promoting quality and sustainable growth in the local tourism industry to deliver long term economic-social and cultural benefits to the island nation. 4th March 2021 marks 11 years since the inauguration of MMPRC in 2009. The Maldives is now rightfully considered one of the most beautiful and desired tourist destinations in the world. The white sandy beaches, the crystal clear turquoise water, and the variety of life beneath the sea are images that resonate strongly in the imagination of people throughout the world.
The Maldives’ position in the global tourism industry is not merely a reflection of its natural environment and beauty, but a reflection of the perseverance, ingenuity, creativity and passion of the Maldivian people. As MMPRC marks the 11th year since inauguration, we reflect upon 2020 and how the Maldives persevered through the challenges of a global pandemic and a year of uncertainty, change, and growth. MMPRC began 2020 with a celebration of the 1.5th million tourist arrival in 2019. The steady growth in the number of arrivals inspired MMPRC to network throughout the world and conduct unique promotional activities. On 1st January 2020, MMPRC conducted a joint campaign with Singapore Airlines followed by a global campaign with CNN on the 1st of March.
MMPRC’s mission in promoting Maldives is only possible through maintaining a strong destination presence throughout the entire world. As the year began, news reports appeared reporting an unknown virus spreading throughout the global population. Soon followed nationwide lockdowns and border closures throughout the world, a truly unprecedented scene in recent history.
Naturally with major airlines grounded and border closures, the number of tourist arrivals decreased dramatically. It was not long before the Maldives closed borders for international travelers and enacted a nationwide lockdown lasting over three months. It was the first time the Maldives closed its borders for international travelers since the opening of the first tourist resort. 2020 started with high hopes and optimism, and within the span of a few months, the future of the tourism industry in the Maldives stood on an uncertain foundation.
In times of peril and hardship, people reveal their strongest self and character. The Maldivian government and key industries prioritized the health, safety, and wellbeing of the population amongst all else. Entire industries devoted unparalleled time, energy and attention to ensure that the needs of the population were met, and worked together to contain the virus and reduce community spreads. The immense effort invested by the frontline workers is one of the main key reasons why the Maldives was able to persevere together as a nation.
As the lockdown began, the marketing plans of the government’s national tourism body, MMPRC came to a complete halt, and the promotional campaigns shifted to digital platforms. Various stakeholders in the industry and beyond adapted to the new situation. While the means of communication shifted, there was also a greater enhancement in communication and inclusivity between agents, partners, and customers across various key markets. For events such as trade shows and conferences, stakeholders and customers from all over the world were able to join with ease and comfort.
Entire industries contributed to the efforts and planning for reopening of the borders. An emphasis was placed on the unique geographical formation of Maldivian islands, and the key one-island-one-resort concept. In addition to the effort, time and energy of the Maldivian people, the naturally socially-distanced islands in the Maldives is a blessing that is an integral component of why tourism in the Maldives was able to not only persevere but thrive during a global pandemic.
The characteristics and features of the Maldives makes the country one of the safest destinations and a safe haven for visitors. The rest of the world was constantly being made aware of the safety measures and important procedures in place for tourists. Ultimately, the president of the Maldives made the brave decision to open the borders on 15th July 2020, becoming one of the first countries to open borders for all international travelers in 2020.
The country received the “Safe Travels Stamp” by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), in recognition of the efforts to implement enhanced health and safety measures, in line with the WTTC global Safe Travels protocols. Additionally, Velana International Airport received the ACI Airport Health Accreditation for consistent measures, which are in line with ACI’s standards in the “new normal” during the pandemic. Velana International Airport is the second airport in the Asia Pacific Region to receive the Health Accreditation.
The entire company of MMPRC, alongside industry stakeholders and partners, continued working tirelessly to assure tourists of safety, and kept the world dreaming about the Maldives. Several marketing activities and campaigns were launched, providing a platform for tourists from around the world to relive the happiness and rediscover the wonders of Maldives.
Visit Maldives carried out over 412 different types of marketing activities in 22 global markets. 314 activities were carried out during the pandemic as part of the crisis recovery plan; some of the events included online and physical fairs, webinars, FAM trips, online roadshows, outdoors campaigns, digital media campaigns and more. During this difficult time, numerous celebrities such as Disha Patani, Kajal Aggarwal, Alessandra Ambrosio, David Guetta and Shakira arrived in the Maldives, further promoting the country to massive audiences back home.
On 28th November, the Maldives was awarded ‘The World’s Leading Destination of 2020’, the most prestigious honours program in the global travel and tourism industry as it is recognised globally as the ultimate hallmark of industry excellence. It was the first time the Maldives won the award in the history of the island nation. On 17th December 2020, the Maldives marked the grand arrival of the 500,000th tourist arrival since reopening.
Fast forward to 2021 and the Maldives continues to break records. In February 2021, the Maldives recorded the highest number of arrivals welcoming over 96,880 arrivals, with an average of 3,460 tourists per day. The ministry recorded the highest single-day tourist arrivals on the 21st of February, welcoming 5,268 arrivals. The second highest single-day arrivals were recorded on February 12, with over 4,850 arrivals. So far, over a staggering 195,000 visitors have arrived in the Maldives.
The Maldives has started a rigorous vaccination campaign throughout the entire country. The campaign aims to vaccinate as much of the population and workers in key industries as possible, including the tourism sector. This will positively assure tourists and staff that the environment they are in is safe, secure and protected. Along with the unique geographical formation of the islands which offer a natural physical distancing, and the stringent health and safety measures in place, a fully vaccinated tourism sector will become an added advantage in encouraging tourists to visit the destination.
The administration of the vaccine in Maldives started on 1st February 2021, with His Excellency President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, Former President and Parliament Speaker Mohamed Nasheed and Chief Justice Ahmed Muthasim Adnan being among the first to receive their first doses of the AstraZeneca’s COVISHIELD vaccine. Up until now, over 129,420 people have been vaccinated in the Maldives. This includes over 6,000 tourism industry workers from more than 40 resorts.
With an immense variety of events and promotional activities such as roadshows, FAM trips, webinars, fairs and more, 2021 is shaping to become an immensely successful and optimistic year for the Maldives and the tourism industry. It is our hope at MMPRC that the future of the Maldivian tourism industry is one that is bright and full of hope. Moving forward, once again, it is crucial that we recognize the effort, energy, time, dedication and sacrifices made by each and every single Maldivian and international stakeholders in helping the Maldives find its way through the challenges of the pandemic.