Interview: Mohamed Bassam Adam, Deputy MD, MMPRC

Maldives to focus on longer stays by Indian tourists
2024-02-05
/
/ Madrid
Mohamad Bassam Adam
Interview: Mohamed Bassam Adam, Deputy MD, MMPRC

Mohamed Bassam Adam says that his focus would be to focus on luxury clientele from India for longer stays in Maldives

India remains a key focus market for Maldives and the focus of Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) in the year ahead would be to get the Indian visitors to come and stay for longer in Maldives, Mohamed Bassam Adam, Deputy Managing Director tells India Outbound.
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How was 2023 for Maldives and what is your target now?

2023 was a good year for tourism in the Maldives because we reached our target of 1.8 million tourists. But in terms of bed capacity, we need to do much more to take Maldives tourism to the next level. With the new government, we have come up with new plans of diversifying tourism and venture into new areas like adventure tourism, sports tourism and cultural tourism.

Traditionally, Maldives Tourism and various stakeholders in the country like hotels, travel agents have done their job in order to position Maldives as a high-end tourism destination. The next step for MMPRC will be to focus on other aspects of tourism in Maldives such as experiences and hospitality so that we can position the country as much more than just the sun, sand and the sea. We want the world to know that we have much more to offer in terms of tourism.

Which are your focus markets in 2024?

We will continue to promote both the high-end luxury resorts as well as the guest houses for the budget travellers. We will focus on South-East Asia, Asia, Eastern Europe, Russia as well as Latin America and the Middle East.

What is your strategy vis a vis India?

So in terms of India, what we have noticed is that India did generate a large number of tourists to the Maldives, but it did not lead to corresponding revenues for our tourism sector since the number of nights spent by average Indian visitors is less. So, we want to focus on increasing the number of nights spent by the Indian visitors and hence have greater share of revenues from the Indian market. So, we will target more on the high-end travellers and longer stays, besides the volume of travellers. The current average is 3-4 nights and we need to hit at least seven nights.

Maldives

Maldives is a luxury destination, says Adam

How will you get there?

In order to get there, we need to reach the niche market, with those events, closed-door events exclusively for the high-end travellers and we need to do proper luxury marketing. Currently Maldives is not positioned as a luxury destination in India, instead it is more of a volume destination. It began during Covid as a number of Indians chose Maldives for quarantine since they like to travel. So, Maldives became popular as a volume destination.

It is not that we will not cater to volume tourists any more. We Maldivians love Indians and we welcome all Indians with open arms. Even diplomatically, our two countries are very close and have very good relations. Maldives and India are very well connected with each other.

What kind of experiences are you adding to get Indian visitors to stay 7 nights?

In order to get there, we will need to do much more to reach our target and for that we will need to unlock our networks in order to reach the niche of luxury Indian travellers and with the offerrings that correspond to what they look for in a destination like Maldives. And this work will need to be done because when we talk about India, it is not only about one city, it is about different cities and different cultures and different mentality. So I think we have to think in a different way when we hold roadshows in India.

What about developing the Tier II and Tier III cities in India?

We are still doing a proper research and not just in India, but to all the markets that we cater to, because Maldives is an international destination. Because in the past we have had Italy being a dominant source market, then Japan and the United Kingdom as well. It keeps changing. So we are checking all the avenues of the top markets which we can target based on our products because unlike before, Maldives has excess rooms.  We have about 40 pc excess room inventory because in the recent past we have many new high-end resorts come up and that has led to excess capacity. Normally during Christmas and New Year, Maldives is overbooked, but this year it did not happen because we have an oversupply of rooms. So that is where I think we have to focus, to fill these rooms first and then we move our focus to the next level.

What is the target for 2024?

Our Tourism Minister has mentioned that we need to reach at least 2 million this year and here at FITUR, which is our first international show this year. All the agents that I have spoken with here they say that we can easily reach even 3 million tourists this year. So, our target is 2 million but we will exceed that. Here at FITUR, we have an overwhelming response our stand this time here is also designed very well with a lot of space all around, as you can see. And we have had a lot of visitors, B2B, leisure or media.

FITUR 2024

Maldives received very good response at FITUR, says Adam

And how do you plan to develop the European market ?

European market actually knows Maldives already very well as a honeymoon destination and for corporates and incentives. As I said we will focus on the target audiences for specific markets that we need to develop. There is something for everyone in Maldives. Take for example the backpackers, there are guest houses for them, they can come and go to the same beautiful beaches and enjoy Maldivian hospitality while spending a fraction of what the high-end travellers will spend in a luxury resort. Then we also want to highlight cultural experiences and other experiences. We also want to develop the wellness and even traditional Maldivian wellness tourism product in Europe.

In order to promote medical tourism, we are working with the authorities to regulate Maldivian medicine, which is called Dhivehi beys, that is supposedly the best alternate medicine in the world. So, we are not talking of modern medicine but alternate medicines. For instance, our therapists are well-known for white sand massages which can really relieve the knee pain and back pain.

How about air connectivity to your key markets?

Maldivian government has decided to purchase two wide-body aircraft for the national airline, Maldivian, for long-haul flights connecting to our key markets that are in long-haul range. It could be China and some other destinations. For India, we already have direct connectivity. So with better connections to our other major markets, Maldives tourism will certainly benefit from this.

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