Maldives tourism leaders to probe revenue drop despite increased arrivals
Tourism Minister Ibrahim Faisal and the new Managing Director of MMPRC, Fathimath Thaufeeg, highlighted plans to investigate why the surge in tourist arrivals in Maldives hasn’t translated into increased revenue.
The government’s target of hosting 1.8 million tourists for the year was hit with the arrival of the 1.8 millionth tourist on Wednesday.
Following a ceremony at Velana International Airport to mark the occasion, Faisal addressed reporters, noting the disparity between rising tourist numbers and stagnant revenue.
“We’ll delve into the details to pinpoint the cause. Our focus is on adapting our approach accordingly,” Faisal stated.
Highlighting the distinct spending patterns, Faisal emphasised the contrast between high-end resorts, hosting affluent tourists with robust spending capacities, especially from the Russian market, and guesthouses catering to backpackers staying for shorter periods.
“Guesthouses see shorter stays, primarily by backpackers, while high-end resorts attract affluent tourists who spend more,” Faisal observed.
MMPRC’s Fathimath Thaufeeg outlined forthcoming plans to bolster Maldives’ advertising efforts, expressing concern that the revenue failed to reflect the increased tourist influx.
“We’re strategising to tap into more markets for Maldives. Our aim is to enhance global branding and devise a comprehensive plan,” she stated.
Despite record tourist arrivals this year, hotels and resorts in Maldives posted the weakest performance in the Asia Pacific region, with Gross Operating Profit Per Available Room (GOPPAR) at -11.8% in the past 12 months, according to the most recent Asia Pacific Hotels Monitor put out by hospitality advisory firm Whitebridge. With GOPPAR of +1,420%, Tokyo emerged as the star performer in APAC, while the Maldives posted the weakest performance with GOPPAR at -11.8%, the study, released in late November, said.
The Maldives saw the biggest off-season losses. Peaking at more than $300 GOPPAR, almost tripling Singapore’s achievement, the destination’s high operating costs resulted in losses in September 2022 and June 2023.
The findings are in line with the latest data released by the Maldives’ central bank.
A recent report by the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) revealed that the occupancy rate of the tourism industry declined to 53% in October 2023, from 58% in October 2022. The operational bed capacity of the tourism industry observed an increase of 3,545 beds when compared with October 2022.
The MMA attributed the decline in occupancy rate to the increase in bed capacity, which outpaced the growth in tourist arrivals. The report also noted that the average stay of tourists observed a decline to 7.6 days in October 2023, from 8.1 days in October 2022.
Overall, for the period January to October 2023, total tourist arrivals increased by 13% in annual terms, while bednights rose by 7%. During the period, the average stay observed a decline to 7.6 days, from 8.1 days in the corresponding period of 2022.