The Maldives was one of the first destinations to reopen amid the pandemic, giving it a first-mover advantage. Feizal Samath uncovers how the island nation is nurturing travel dreams through targeted campaigns and marketing efforts over the past two years.

HIMMAFUSHI / MALDIVES – MARCH 08, 2019: Long hair Caucasian surfer rides tropical ocean wave with green island on horizon and coral reef underwater view. Tilt offset effect applied

Unlike international border closures and global travel restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Maldives is heading for a successful tourism year in 2022, coinciding with the island nation celebrating its golden jubilee of tourism.

“We hope to reach another milestone (in 2022) and welcome 1.6 million visitors this year,” said Thoyyib Mohamed, Managing Director and CEO of the public Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC).

Surfing is just one of the many activities you can do in the Maldives

The Maldives reopened its borders to tourists on July 15, 2020, after a brief three-month pandemic-related lockdown, with rigorous procedures in place to ensure the safety of tourists and tourism workers.

Arrivals in 2021 reached 1.3 million, reveling in a period when few other destinations were open. Before the pandemic, the year 2019 generated a record 1.7 million arrivals.

Aware of the travel constraints of Covid-19, MMPRC has relied heavily on promoting the destination via digital media, forging strong relationships with tourism businesses to promote the recovery of the long-haul market.

Mohammad said TTG Asia: “We had to adapt our marketing concepts to online and digital events. We have also run several social media campaigns to make sure the world knows that we are preparing and waiting to welcome them once it is safe to travel.

“This included a major campaign called, Maldives, the sun will shine againwhere we encouraged travelers to stay safe and visit the Maldives later.

Throughout 2021, MMPRC conducted 260 different marketing activities in 22 global markets last year, all to ensure that demand follows the open borders of the destination.

He has also had multiple partnerships and engagements with major international travel brands and companies. For example, Kuoni France ran a month-long campaign in partnership with the Maldives, where the destination was marketed through articles, photos and newsletters on Kuoni’s digital and social platforms.

There have also been destination marketing campaigns with the Polish tour operator ITAKA; familiarization tours for travel writers to key source markets; a joint campaign with the Italian Sporting Vacanze, member of ASTOI, the Italian association of tour operators; a global advertising deal with BBC Global News; and a joint campaign with News UK, among others.

Despite the challenges related to Covid-19, a number of new resorts opened in the Maldives last year. Many resorts are also set to launch this year, including Hilton Maldives Amingiri Resort & Spa and Six Senses Kanuhura.

According to Dillip Rajakariar, Group CEO of Minor International and CEO of Minor Hotels, the Maldives is a destination that can deliver a world-class experience on so many levels, thanks to its natural beauty, quality hotels, high level of service and his great experiences. .

“We are so confident in the future of the Maldives that we are launching our sixth property – Avani + Fares Maldives Resort – in Baa Atoll in September this year,” he said. TTG Asia.

Rajakariar expects the easing of travel restrictions around the world to fuel demand for high-end destinations, including the Maldives.

Inigo Berastain, Director of RIU Maldives, meanwhile, believes that the Indian market, due to its proximity, will continue to be a very strong inbound market for the Maldives.

He is also confident that the “classic and strong markets” of Germany and the UK will continue to support the recovery of tourism in the Maldives.

Berastain added that while there is a perception that the Maldives is a destination for honeymooners, RIU welcomes a wider variety of customers.

“We also receive families, groups of friends, people traveling alone and corporate groups who decide to make their business trip here,” he revealed.

Travelers to the Maldives are often those who enjoy water activities, such as kayaking, scuba diving or surfing.

While the Maldives is popular for its one island, one resort concept, which offers guests as much privacy as they want, the destination also caters to all price points, from super wealthy globetrotters to backpackers back to basics.

Mohamed said the Maldives is ready to welcome everyone as the accommodation inventory includes resorts, hotels, guesthouses, homestay options and cruise ships at various ranges. of price.

As such, the Maldives also plans to woo millennials, a group that currently accounts for 40% of the global travel market.

According to a recent survey of visitors to the Maldives, statistics show that almost half of visitors to the Maldives are under the age of 35, while 60% of them discovered the island nation on the internet.