Maldives’ fast-growing guesthouse sector in ‘desperate’ need of promotional support

Thoddoo island in the Maldives home to several guesthouses

With more guesthouses popping up across the country amid a rising budget inbound sector, some operators in the Maldives are urging the government to promote this market at overseas trade shows.

“We desperately need more promotion,” Mohamed Karam, president of the Guesthouse Association of Maldives, told TTG Asia on the sidelines of the second International Travel Trade Show of Maldives (TTM), which took place in Malé earlier this week.

Thoddoo island in the Maldives home to several guesthouses

Unlike resorts, guesthouses have limited resources to attend trade shows or do their own international marketing, confided Karam, who owns a 12-room guesthouse on Thoddoo island. “We depend on online sales and cannot afford individual marketing at trade shows.”

Rallying support for island campaigns, Karam added: “Local councils on islands where guesthouses are located must promote each island, its properties and the benefit of a visit. These guesthouses bring huge benefits to the islanders.

“Unlike all-inclusive resorts, guesthouse islands engage local communities to provide facilities like restaurants, swimming pools, spas, shopping and sporting activities,” he pointed out.

The development of guesthouses, with average room count ranging from five to 20, is aimed at helping local communities thrive, Karam said.

He shared that the Maldives went from having just one guesthouse in 2010 to 600 guesthouses across 76 islands today, adding 7,000 beds. The number could rise to 700 guesthouses with a combined 10,000 beds by end 2019, according to Karam.

Anusha Zubair, sales and marketing manager at Fushifaru Maldives, said the guesthouse segment provides a different dimension to the market. “Now travellers have many options and those who are unable to afford luxury resorts can opt for guesthouses if their budget is around US$50,” she said.

Fushifaru Maldives is part of Muni Enterprises group, which owns a 20-room guesthouse on Maafushi island, two safari boats and other businesses.

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