With the Maldives having claimed a number of top titles at the World Travel Awards, Breaking Travel News here catches up with tourism chief, Thoyyib Mohamed, to discover how the trophies will help the recovery from Covid-19
Breaking Travel News: Maldives has been recognised with the top prize of World’s Leading Destination at the World Travel Awards this year, alongside trophies for Indian Ocean’s Leading Beach Destination, Indian Ocean’s Leading Cruise Destination and Indian Ocean’s Leading Dive Destination. How does it feel to have won?
Thoyyib Mohamed: We are extremely proud and happy to have won these awards!
It feels like our marketing efforts and teamwork have paid off tremendously.
Together with the government, stakeholders and travel and tourism industry, we have always strived to achieve excellence, and this is what we have achieved right now.
We are looking at the result of our hard work and resilience.
Even during these unprecedented times, we have not stopped our work in trying to make sure that Maldives remains on the top of the most preferred tourist destinations in the world.
These awards are a testament to the love the world has for Maldives and we would like to express our sincere gratitude to everyone who has made it possible for us to have come this far.
BTN: How useful are the World Travel Awards trophies when it comes to promoting the Maldives to a global tourism market?
TM: World Travel Awards trophies are a testament to the love the world has for us, and also the hard work and resilience we have put into the marketing efforts over the years, especially this year.
This is useful for us because it will highlight the fact that Maldives remains safe for travellers and is one of the most desired destinations in the world.
It is bound to give assurance to the global tourism market that Maldives is definitely a must-visit destination and that our services are impeccable, the luxury and the experiences we offer is boundless, and we carry a natural beauty like no other.
We will most definitely be using the receival of this award in our future marketing campaigns and endeavours to make travellers dream of visiting the destination.
BTN: Having reopened to international tourists earlier this year, how has the Maldives been recovering from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic?
TM: The spread of Covid-19 was widely spread in the great Male’ region only.
Our small island nation’s unique geographical features together with stringent measures in place are our biggest advantages in combating the spread of Covid-19.
One of the first steps taken to curb the spread of the virus was closing our borders on March 27th.
However, after four months of border closure, Maldives once again reopened the borders to international tourists on July 15th.
Safety is the destinations top priority and already an impressive 94 per cent of resorts in the Maldives have reopened for business, and several hotels, guest houses and liveaboards have resumed operation as well, all in line with the comprehensive Covid-19 safe tourism guidelines and hygiene certification programme issued by the Maldivian ministry of tourism in June.
All resorts, guest houses and hotels situated in the island nation are required to take protective measures, ensuring the safety of tourists and staff working in the industry.
With these measures in place we are now ready and looking forward to welcoming back tourists to our beautiful country.
Since the reopening of the border, we have been witnessing a gradual increase in the number of tourist arrivals each passing month.
Tourists from different parts of the world are visiting Maldives to rediscover the beauty of this safe haven.
According to the latest statistics by Maldives Immigration,over 67,000 tourists have arrived after reopening of the borders.
The majority of the visitors are from Russia, followed by India, the UK, USA and UAE.
As traveling to Maldives does not require quarantine or self-isolation of 14 days, it makes travel easily accessible.
With the ease of travel restrictions and the extension of the negative PCR test for Covid-19 from 72 hours to 96 hours prior to arrival, we are hopeful that there will be a further increase in tourist arrivals.
The introduction of split stay is also an added incentive for tourists to visit different tourist establishments with prior approval as per the guidelines by the ministry of tourism.
We have also introduced the first Covid-19 travel insurance in the country, Allied Inbound, which covers medical charges, isolation facility charges, emergency medical transportation charges and interment charges following a positive diagnosis for the virus during their stay in the country.
Though it will take time, we will hopefully reach a favourable level of tourist arrivals by the end of the year.
BTN: What activities can be expected from the Maldives Marketing & PR Corporation as we move into 2021 to ensure the market is fully recovered next year?
TM: With the remarkable milestone reached in 2019, we started off this year with high hopes but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, our marketing plans were disrupted and we had to come up with new tactics and shift to digital platforms to promote the destination.
Despite the many challenges, we have been working hard to ensure that we are a safe haven for travellers, and we are on a fast recovery path.
We have carried out numerous networking meetings between industry partners like airlines, tour operators, agents and online travel agents to explore what could be done together in the year ahead.
We have carried out over 412 different marketing activities in 22 global markets. 314 activities were carried out during this pandemic; some of these include fairs,
webinars, FAM trips, online roadshows, outdoor campaigns, digital media campaigns and more.
We estimate over 18 carriers to fly into Maldives by the end of November with more to follow in the coming months and by 2021.
We are strategically focused on targeting all countries that have opened borders and are able to fly.
In this regard, we have also developed an air travel bubble with India as well as the UK which enables more connectivity between the two countries.
We have also started a global media campaign focusing on ten key markets to promote the destination on various online and print media platforms, simultaneously.
Our main aim is to keep travellers dreaming of the destination and keep our destination presence visible, which will ultimately increase travellers by next year.
Hopefully, we will be able to reach pre Covid-19 numbers soon.
Different ideas were gathered during this unprecedented time and we are gearing up to face next year to explore new markets and try and come up with interesting marketing tactics to make this beautiful Maldives more visible for the potential travellers.
We see massive growth for the upcoming year, and we believe we can reach the 2019 numbers.
We are confident that with our current marketing efforts and full support from the government, stakeholders and everyone in the tourism industry, we will be able to see a significant growth in tourist arrivals.
Our hope is to increase our efforts day by day and continue to work diligently to ensure that the market is fully recovered next year. Our marketing activities are quite successful, and we have received extreme support from our PR agencies from key markets as well.
We are very grateful for their support and cooperation in these trying times as well.
Our aim is to work together with everyone to ensure full recovery!
Maldives Marketing & Public Relations Corporation is the government body mandated with the promotion of the country as a tourist destination.
The functions of the body encompass the full spectrum of marketing and public relations activities including research, surveys, master plans, campaigns, advertising and exposure through traditional media, public relations firms in other countries and the evolving new media.
Find out more on the official website.