On last Wednesday, Maldives began plans to diversify their tourism industry with the introduction of guest houses to attract moderately affluent guests. Promotion of guest house tourism in the Maldives will increase charter flight tourism and revenue and improve revenue, President Yameen told local media.
The Maldives Association of Travel and Tour Operators (MATATO) endorsed the project, urging its members to take part in the government’s plans. The group which represents over 50 local travel agents and tour operators said
“MATATO believes this will help target mass charter flights, rather than FIT (fully independent traveler) or small groups, paving the way to bring back major charter operators to the Maldives”.
During the launch President Abdulla Yameen said “Once again today we are looking to diversify tourism, to shape it in a different way. It does not mean moving away from the existing concept of having one resort on one island”.
The guest house island concept aims to expand the tourism industries to incorporate small and medium enterprises, without intruding on the inhabited islands.
While guest house tourism on inhabited islands has developed briskly in recent years, some within the industry have expressed concern that it may damage the upscale resort image of the Maldives.
The project, which is set to involve the development of a 2,100 bed resort run by several local businesses, was described as “communal tourism development” or “vertical tourism” by the president.
The president additionally revealed that further guest house island projects would be carried out within the special economic zones to be established under proposed legislation.
It is made aware that only Maldivians will be permitted to invest in such projects, with priority given to those not yet involved in the industry.
According to the Central Bank, Maldives tourism grew by 10 percent in the first quarter of 2014, helped by a boom in Chinese tourists who have flocked to its pristine beaches.
According to the Tourism Ministry, Chinese tourists accounted for 27 percent of guests throughout the first quarter of 2014 and the Chinese market grew by 24 percent with an additional 16,960 tourists in comparison to the same period of 2013.
The Maldivian economy is vastly dependent on tourism, which accounted for 28 percent of GDP on average in the past five years, and generated 38 percent of government revenue in 2012.