The Maldives will be embarking on an expo in Malaysia – in partnership with AirAsia – this week as part of a long-awaited campaign targeting South-east Asian’s outbound travellers.
“With the Malaysian event, we are kicking off our campaign in that region,” said Thoyyib Mohamed, managing director of the Maldives Marketing and PR Corporation (MMPRC), the country’s main tourism promotion agency.
Named the Visit Maldives Travel Expo, the event in Malaysia will be a three-day long tradeshow held from July 5-7 at a mall in Putrajaya, where 14 partners from Maldives will be participating.
“It’s a different kind of tradeshow, with the first two days devoted to B2B, and the final day being a B2C event,” Mohamed told TTG Asia in a phone interview last Saturday.
Earlier this month, Mohamed told TTG Asia in an interview in Male that the MMPRC was planning to hold numerous promotions in South-east Asia as the region’s travellers tend to be quick decision-makers on overseas trips unlike their European counterparts.
Aside from Malaysia, MMPRC is also looking to conduct “some marketing activity” in Philippines and Singapore. For instance, MMPRC and its local partners will be taking part in the NATAS Holiday Fair in Singapore from August 2-4.
He added that the agency is not ignoring Europe, where “many roadshows are lined up”.
In addition, the Maldives has announced a three-fold increase in its tourism promotion budget this year to around US$7 million, compared with US$2.2 million annually in the past few years. Arrivals have been set at 1.6 million this year, up from 1.4 million in 2018.
The new campaign focusing on the South-east Asian outbound market is expected to give a timely promotional boost for the Maldives, as the destination has been perceived to suffer from a lack of new attractions and costly airfares.
According to Anake Srishevachart, chairman of Thaisin Express and Uni Thai Trip: “Even though the Maldives has become an emerging destination for international tourists (like the) Chinese, many Thais feel it still lacks fresh attractions and new activities – aside from clear water, private islands and beaches.”
“The cost of travel to the Maldives is also higher than other countries in Asia so only a few can afford packages. They may visit once but not (make repeat visits),” he added.
Wee Hee Ling, CEO at Euro-Asia Holidays on the other hand, shares that awareness of the Maldives in Singapore is not high.
“At the moment, it’s not a priority to visit (the Maldives), and there’s no rush to go there. Maldives tourism authorities have very quiet in the past two to three years, and there’s a lot more competition and options right now – for example, Fiji, Mauritius and the Pacific Islands have been very aggressive in spending money and effort on outreach. The Maldives has become a bit forgotten, and the demand from Singapore has dropped quite a bit compared to five years ago,” he elaborated.
Currently, South-east Asian travellers make up just 4.3 per cent of total traffic to the Maldives, and the MMPRC feels there is room to attract more. Main source markets from South-east Asia are Thailand – rising from 3,813 arrivals in 2009 to 32,436 in 2018; Malaysia – rising from 3,139 in 2009 to 22,202 in 2018, and Singapore – rising from 5,214 in 2009 to 18,638 in 2014 and then dropping to 13,877 in 2018.
- Additional reporting from Suchat Sritama and Pamela Chow