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WTM London 2019: Maldives switches tack to attract more diverse visitors

The Maldives is to roll out a strategy around cultural tourism, sports and MICE in order to attract additional, and a more diverse range of tourists to the island nation.

Tropical fish and turtles swimming in the Maldives
Tropical fish and turtles swimming in the Maldives

But Thoyyib Mohamed, managing director of Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC), said this would not mean building big new facilities in order to attract them.

“I am against that – we’re not saying we will build big new buildings for the sake of it, rather we will encourage resorts to make the most of these niche markets where they already have the facilities on their island, such as small, high-level meetings in the MICE market and sports such as beach volleyball and badminton,” he said.

Mohamed added that a focus on cultural tourism would help the destination attract younger travellers.

“We all know millennials are attracted by the chance to connect on a more cultural level, so we will be encouraging the resorts to really showcase more of the Maldivian experience to guests,” he said. “We need to shift perception that Maldives is all about the beach.

“We also need to explore the richer assets of the islands in the south, larger islands where we have wetlands, protected islands and areas of architectural interest, for example.”

In order to try to spread the word about the more diverse offering of the country, Mohamed said the tourist office would be producing 10 video clips under a “Stories of the Maldives” campaign.

“We’ve identified at least 50 topics we might cover,” he said.

A push for year-round tourism was also on the cards he said, with an attempt to balance out arrivals in traditionally ‘low season’ times.

He added the country was now in a period of political stability, with president Ibrahim Mohamed Solih coming up to a year in office.

“Stability counts for something,” he said. “As an administration we have five years to make change so we have to act on our promises – it’s time to deliver.”

Elsewhere Mohamed pledged to make more of a commitment to enacting environmental initiatives. “Every tourist brings with them lots of waste,” he said. “We have to do something; we cannot stay the same.”

The visitor target for 2019 was 1.5 million, which will be confidently reached by the end of November, he said.

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