Maldives kicks off tourism campaign with three-fold increase in budget

Encouraging visitors to hop from island to island and from resort to resort

The Maldives has launched an aggressive destination marketing campaign this year, tripling its promotion budget from a few years ago, and partnering Singapore Airlines (SIA) and the BBC in the process.

“Yes, we are promoting the destination more aggressively,” asserted Thoyyib Mohamed, managing director of the Maldives Marketing and PR Corporation (MMPRC), the country’s main state tourism promotion agency.

Under new national leadership, the destination marketing agency has three times the budget

The agency is set to spend close to US$7 million this year, up from US$2.2 million annually in the past two to three years. The increased budget was approved after a new government took office in April this year.

In comments made at the Travel Trade Maldives show in Male last week, Mohamed said a social media marketing campaign targeting six countries – the US, Ukraine, Thailand, India, Russia and China – will begin soon. The organisation has also signed separate contracts with 11 PR agencies across the world.

The destination is partnering with SIA in an US$180,000 deal promoting the destination in China, Japan, South Korea and the US, while MMPRC is also in talks with AirAsia, Emirates and SriLankan Airlines for similar arrangements covering other markets.

Thoyyib added that the agency has signed a contract with BBC, starting September 2019, to use their multimedia platform for a 3.5-month period to promote the destination.

“We are constantly looking for new ideas and taking different approaches than what we used to,” he said, adding that MMPRC is bringing back roadshows as part of the campaign. In recent years, the Maldives trade has complained about the lack of proper promotion on a smaller budget with presence at overseas trade fairs being the main item on the then budget.

Andrew Ashmore, chief commercial officer at Coco Collection Hotels & Resorts, welcomed the promotion campaign as a positive step forward. “Funding is critical. (And with) so many new high-level brands opening in the Maldives, the future new airport will help increase global awareness and bring the destination further into the mainstream,” he told TTG Asia.

“Interestingly the lesser markets like India are really growing, but we need much more to achieve the millions (targeted) in the next few years,” he said, referring to the Maldives’ goal of reaching two million arrivals in 2020-2022.

Abdul Karam, president of the Guesthouse Association of the Maldives, shared that the promotion campaign will, for the first time, include guesthouses as part of the product offering in the Maldives.

However, the general manager of a destination marketing company cautioned: “You need to be careful not to focus too much on guesthouses and low-end accommodation because people will then think this is a cheap destination… whereas the Maldives is a premier destination”.

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