The Maldives welcomes the 100,000th tourist
The year 2019 was a remarkable one in the history of the Maldives’ tourism, with a groundbreaking record of 1.7 million tourist arrivals to the country. 2020 started off with more diversified and aggressive marketing strategies to break this record and reach a target of 2 million tourist arrivals by the end of the year.
However, due to the ongoing global pandemic, the Maldives had to close its borders on 27th March 2020. After almost four months of border closure, the tourism industry reopened on 15th July, with enhanced precautionary measures against COVID-19. A safe tourism guideline was issued by the Ministry of Tourism. Resorts and Liveaboards resumed operations on this date, whereas guesthouses resumed operations on 15th October. As of 14th December, guesthouses and hotels in the greater Male’ region are also scheduled to reopen.
Since the reopening, there has been a gradual increase in tourist arrivals with the establishment of travel bubbles between the Maldives and other countries, as well as greater connectivity in terms of flight operations. Over 18 airlines are currently travelling to and from the Maldives, from all around the globe.
On 6th December, the Maldives broke the record of daily arrivals since its reopening, with a total of 3,006 tourists arriving in the Indian Ocean destination, with air traffic movement on this date at 352.
The Minister of Tourism Honorable Dr. Abdulla Mausoom stated, "Surpassing the milestone of 100,000 tourists in advance of the projections is really encouraging. This achievement is the outcome of a unified #MaldivesApproach to a global challenge. This is the result of HEP Solih's courageous decision to open the Maldives’ borders with a whole government, whole travel and tourism industry and whole community approach, to ensure this vital industry was set in motion with a strong focus on safety with the minimum possible inconvenience to tourists. Thanks to travel and tourism industry partners, employees, and associations; health professionals; related government authorities and councils; the diplomatic and international community; the lovely people of the Maldives and the team members of Immigration, Airports Company, Tourist Police, Port Health, Customs, MMPRC and Ministry of Tourism. We thank the tourists for visiting us and sharing their #MaldivesExperience to the world. You all made this possible."
During a grand event held on Saturday 12th December at Velana International Airport, the 100,000th tourist was identified by the Ministry of Tourism, together with Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC), Maldives Immigration and Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL). The 100,000th tourist, Ms. Jasmin Burki, arrived from Switzerland via Emirates.
On arrival, Jasmin was escorted outside by officials of MMPRC and Maldives Immigration, and greeted by the Deputy Minister of Ministry of Tourism, Managing Director of MMPRC, Controller General of Immigration and CEO and Managing Director of MACL. The Controller General of Immigration, Mr. Mohamed Ahmed Hussain, also handed over a special gift to her - Tanu.
He stated, "I am delighted to welcome the 100,000th tourist today. It was unimaginable, but I saw the thirst of the related agencies and industry stakeholders to achieve this milestone in such a short period of time. This gives us the assurance that, even under dire circumstances, we can achieve remarkable things by working together. With wishful thinking, dedication and significant innovation on the policy front, our tourism industry is coming back from the depths of collapse with a swift rebound in growth. I would also like to ensure that Maldives Immigration will embrace new technologies and utilise all available resources to fast-track the passage for tourists. The launching of the world's first nation-wide loyalty program, Maldives Border Miles is one such initiative and we aim to achieve new heights in 2021, together with our joint stakeholders."
Upon the receival of the special gift pack, Jasmin then took a photo by the Official Jetty with the special ‘Instagram Frame’' highlighting the Maldives was awarded the ‘World’s Leading Destination of 2020’ at the WTAs. This was followed by the presentation of a holiday voucher by the Managing Director of MMPRC and a special gift by the CEO & MD of MACL, as well as the Deputy Minister of Tourism.
The Managing Director of MMPRC Mr. Thoyyib Mohamed congratulated Jasmin and gave her a warm welcome. "I am beyond thrilled to welcome the 100,000th visitor to the sunny side of life, today. This is indeed, the success of joint efforts and collaborations with everyone working in the tourism industry. Our teamwork ensured that we reached this stage during such challenging times. I would like to assure everyone that the Maldives is one of the safest countries to visit right now and that we will work strategically in order for it to remain on top as the preferred tourist destination."
The CEO & Managing Director of MACL, Mr. Gordon Andrew Stewart said, “This is truly an amazing day as we receive the 100,000th tourist to the Maldives. As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, for around 4 months we were without any commercial airlines to Velana International Airport. However, despite those difficult times, I am really impressed with how quickly the Maldives took fast and decisive action to combat the Covid-19 pandemic and maintain its sunny side of life, on the world stage. Velana International Airport was awarded the ACI Health Accreditation Certificate, the second airport from the Asia Pacific region to achieve this and the Maldives has also been awarded the ‘Safe Travel Stamp’ from UNWTO, as well the title of ‘World’s Leading Destination 2020’ by the World Travel Awards - recognition of its premier destination status on the world stage. All of this hard work has been rewarded with ever-increasing numbers of passengers flying in every month since its borders reopened on the 15th July 2020. The future now looks brighter for the Maldives and I sincerely thank all stakeholders and contributors who have made the Maldives such a truly great holiday destination.”
During such a crucial time, such achievements contribute to the success of the Maldives tourism industry, and the rising tourist arrival numbers are an indication that the Maldives is one of the safest destinations to travel to right now. It is anticipated that the 500,000th tourist of 2020 will arrive by late December and that the country will reach peak arrival rates during 2021.