The South Korean market holds the position as an important market to Maldivian tourism. Prior to the pandemic, South Korea was an emerging top source market in terms of arrivals to the Maldives. In 2019, Maldives recorded 36,609 arrivals from South Korea ranking the market as the 12th top source market to Maldives. The nation is currently experiencing a decline in COVID-19 cases and is in the process of easing travel restrictions. Furthermore, Vaccination began in February and fully-vaccinated South Koreans are exempted from the mandatory 14-day quarantine upon re-entry into South Korea.
Despite travel restrictions, Visit Maldives continued to maintain destination presence and promote Maldives as a safe haven across the South Korean market as part of the global crisis marketing strategy. As the market is recovering, Visit Maldives aims to ensure that Maldives is the top of the mind destination for South Koreans to travel to after COVID-19.
During April, Visit Maldives launched a successful webinar and virtual roadshow for the South Korean market to educate the South Korean travel trade on the latest information regarding Maldives, establish strong relationships with travel trade, and promote Maldives as one of the safest and most preferred destinations in the world. During the webinar and roadshow, the unique products and experiences of Maldivian tourism was highlighted as well as the safety provided by the natural socially-distanced geography of Maldives and the one-island-one resort concept.
Visit Maldives has also launched a digital media marketing campaign for the South Korean Market this March to position the Maldives as the leading travel destination through Naver, Kakao Talk, Facebook & Instagram-digital platforms that are increasingly popular in the South Korean market.
The most recent campaign launched targeting the South Korean market is a six-month long outdoor campaign to increase brand visibility. Throughout this campaign, alluring images and videos of Maldives will be showcased in prominent locations in the capital of South Korea.
Under this campaign, Maldives will be promoted in Subway screen doors of four major stations and in COEX digital media tunnel. The advertisements placed in Subway screen doors will reach a diverse range of classes and age-groups and they will be exposed to the advertisements for a relatively lengthy-period due to waiting times in the subway station.
COEX digital tunnel is situated in the largest commercial district of Gangnam and the video advertisements will reach an incredibly diverse audience. The advertisements in digital media tunnels and subway screen doors are estimated to reach 260,000 consumers and 450,000 consumers per day respectively.
Coinciding with the outdoor campaign, a social media campaign will also be carried out to increase the opportunity to connect offline advertisements with online channels to maximize destination exposure. Passengers will be invited to share photos of the ads with a specific hashtag and to follow the Visit Maldives accounts entitling them for a raffle draw.
The activities for the South Korean market are carried out aligned with Visit Maldives’ greater strategy for this market. The strategies for the South Korean market consists of conducting social media campaigns on all major local social media platforms, taking part in major travel fairs and roadshows to cover all major cities, targeted campaigns timed for local holiday periods, establishing stronger relationship through direct B2B connection with the travel trade, promoting destination on high end channels as well as focused advertising and promotion of the popular Maldivian products and uniquely-Maldivian experiences.
Activities in the pipeline include media and influencer familiarization trips, joint promotions with airlines, joint campaigns with local OTA’s and honeymoon agencies as well as print media advertisements.
As a result of the border closures and travel restrictions amongst the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a significant drop in the number of arrivals from South Korea. As of February 2021, Maldives welcomed 162 arrivals from South Korea. However, there is hope that Maldives holds its position as a top of the mind destination for South Korean travelers as a result of the comprehensive advertising campaigns carried out in this market. With 4 major airlines currently operating in 2021, it is estimated that the arrival figure from the South Korean market will steadily increase within the next few months.