Maldives tourism forecast from gloomy to bright

Tuesday, 25 August 2009 01:33

The ministry of tourism has revised a gloomy forecast of a 15 per cent decline in tourist arrivals to ten percent, Tourism Minister Dr Ahmed Sawad has said.

Speaking at a press conference today, Sawad said the industry coped well during the lean season of June and July, with arrivals increasing from to ten per cent drop in June to seven per cent in July.

“Based on what we’re seeing now and the current trends, we believe about 632,600 tourists will visit the Maldives this year,” he said.
He added the figure will be revisited based on the performance of the sector in the coming months. “I think this is a good healthy development for the tourism industry,” he said.

At the beginning of the year, the tourism ministry predicted a tough year for the industry, based on the deepening global recession and forecasts from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, which warned that tourist industries in South Asia will be badly affected.

In formulating the budget last February, the ministry forecast a decline of 15 per cent for the year, Sawad said, but the numbers have started to pick up since July.

A number of factors have contributed to the positive signs, such as special packages for guests, which attracted more tourists and the length of time spent in the Maldives.

“We have been able to spread many positive messages about the Maldives, and I believe it has had a positive impact,” he said.

He expressed confidence that the growth pattern could be maintained.

Ibrahim Saeed, the assistant executive manager at Soneva Fushi, said the resort’s occupancy was high and they were receiving a lot of last-minute bookings.

“Our occupancy is about 80 per cent. It’s really no different from last year,” he said.

Similarly, a marketing executive at Bandos Island Resort said while the months of May and June saw a “severe” drop in arrivals, their current occupancy was over 70 per cent.

“As of today, bookings for September are low,” he said. “But we’re getting a lot of last-minute bookings, so we’re expecting it to pick up.”


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