Interview with the MD of Maldives Tourism Board

 ? Would you please give a summary about your career in the tourism industry

Having started my career in the media industry, I have held positions in the industry such as the Assistant Director General, Head of HR, and Planning and Development at Television Maldives, the national television station of the Maldives. Later on in my career I have served as the CEO of Villa Television

In the public sector, I was appointed as the Chairman of Maldives Marketing and PR Corporation in 2009. I served as the Finance Executive at the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture and also as the State Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture during the term of former president Mohamed Nasheed

I was appointed to the post of Managing Director of Maldives Marketing & PR Corporation in November 2018. I am privileged to the head of a very committed yet still a small team who tries their best, who never gets tired of trying and most of all a team who is committed to making our dreams come true. If we have been successful in what we are doing with destination marketing, all credit goes to my team and industry stakeholders who has always given us constructive feedback


Let’s start with Covid 19, what was the effect of this pandemic on the Maldives, is this country recovering now, by when will the country return to its 2019 numbers

In mid-April, we saw the first non-imported positive case of the virus in the capital of Maldives – Male’. A strict lockdown of Male’, Villingili and Hulhumale’ was imposed on the same day and travel between islands was prohibited. This resulted in a variety of effects that had mutually affected many other countries in a similar manner – economic impact, restriction on day-to-day movement and of course many more. However, with the compliance of the population and the highly effective monitoring and management done by local authorities, we have been able to keep infection to a minimum across the country and flatten the curve within two and a half months

Restrictions have been eased since mid-June. Offices and shops are now open with strict social distancing rules. Masks are mandatory at closed spaces. Schools and offices have opened with strict guidelines. Inter-island travel is now largely open, except for travel from Male’ to other islands

The country is slowly, but surely starting to recover. However, one of the major factors in this recovery would finally be the reopening of the Maldives on the 15th of July, as our destination relies heavily on tourism. It might take some time for the numbers to return back to normal, but with the precautionary measures undertaken in formulating the ways forward, we expect the industry to show significant recovery in a relatively short period of time


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Everyone is affected by Covid 19, but hotels and local transport companies have suffered the most, what kind of support is MMPRC or the government providing them 

While the government has been closely involved with the relevant stakeholders and attending to their immediate needs, the most significant would be the deferment of rent for resorts and land. This includes deferring resort payments for the third and fourth quarters of the year and land lease rent payments from June 2020 to December 2020, to be settled by June 21, 2021. In addition to these regulatory actions by the government, MMPRC has been conducting (socially distanced) meetings with stakeholders of the tourism industry to discuss new ways forward during the situation, so that we can ensure the fastest recovery for the industry


? What is the percentage of GCC tourists from the total tourists to Maldives in 2019

While the statistics for Bahrain isn’t recorded, the GCC region specifically, Saudi Arabia has held the 15th
:place in the number of arrivals to the Maldives in 2019. The other data are as specified below

Bahrain: N/A

Kuwait: 5,420

Oman: 1,157

Qatar: 4,554

Saudi Arabia: 25,865

United Arab Emirates: 10,493


What kind of marketing activities will MMPRC now conduct in the GCC region, considering that people are afraid to travel

Our marketing activities are now focused on digital and online means of communication. However, our efforts are mainly portrayed through the messaging itself. In addition to our messaging in the destination itself, we are placing a great emphasis on reassuring travelers who may have doubts during this period of new normal. Safety is our top priority and we our messaging puts a significant emphasis on that aspect. Therefore, our digital and online campaigns focus on visibility, but at the same time, promoting what is right. We would let people who dream of travelling, know that the best
way forward is to stay safe, so that everyone can Visit Maldives as soon as possible. We let our wonderful admirers know that we have been discussing with key parties, brainstorming with industry stakeholders to ensure the best way forward and now we have reopened the Maldives once more, for all to enjoy


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? What are the health and safety measures taken by the government to make the country safer

To summarize: The resorts that are opening will have to adhere to strict rules when it comes to reopening. Tourists are only allowed to stay at one establishment during their trip in the first phase of reopening the borders. Resorts will also be following these guidelines closely to ensure the safety of both staff and tourists. Personal hygiene, the use of masks and social distancing is essential. Safety and hygiene measures have been implemented in compliance with guidelines of the WHO the local
Health Protection Agency. Tourists are allowed to visit Maldives without any form of quarantine and travelers are required to submit a health declaration card upon arrival. Temperature checks and screening measures are carried out at the first point of entry. Travelers showing any symptoms of COVID-19 have to do a PCR test upon arrival. Additionally, local health authorities conduct random testing at airports without any additional cost


:For more detailed guidelines, kindly refer to these documents

 Statement by the Ministry of Tourism:  https://bit.ly/3dyoHxu1
 Guidelines for re-opening the tourism sector:  https://bit.ly/2B5OMqa2
 Maldives Travel Information:  https://bit.ly/3dpEe2w3
HPA link for Covid-19 latest updates:  https://bit.ly/2VrMM2P4


Now that not many people will be able to afford the Maldives will the country be promoting its Guesthouses, will the resorts have discounted rates while reopening 

All the products that are available in the Maldives have been promoted continuously within key markets of the destination. Therefore, it is important to highlight that guesthouses have also been showcased to promote its unique features and experiences. However, the budgetary constraints that are faced due to the Covid-19 situation doesn’t necessarily restrict our visitors from a resort experience. That being said, there are a variety of affordable options in Maldivian resorts that can be enjoyed as well, that can be enjoyed by travelers that revisit us during the reopening of Maldives


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? What can tourist expect to be different in the Maldives once borders open

A safe and worry-free holiday – as mentioned previously, the resorts that are opening would be adhering to strict rules when it comes to re-opening. Upon arrival, tourist will see the safety measures taken at airports. Transfer and travel also follow strict guidelines. Tourists are only allowed to stay at one establishment during their trip in the first phase of reopening the borders, therefore movement to other islands will be restricted. Resorts will also be following these guidelines closely to ensure the safety of both staff and tourists. Other than those measures that are in place for the safety of visitors and staff, the Maldives remains as enjoyable as it has always been

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