Dear Valued Members of MATI,
Welcome to the 3rd Quarter Issue, 2020 of the MATI Matters Newsletter.
As we move into the 4th Quarter of 2020, I am encouraged by the gradual increase in tourist arrivals, as modest as they may have been. The last month of this quarter (September 2020) with a figure of 9538 tourist arrivals (an increase of 25% compared to August 2020) is the highest since the borders reopened on the 15th of July 2020.
To date, 104 resorts, 116 liveaboards and 35 transit facilities (guesthouses) have now reopened and are in operation. I expect almost all of our resorts to re-open by December 2020.
It is quite interesting to see slight changes in dynamics for our top markets since the borders reopened. We have seen a surge in arrivals from UAE, with a significant number being expatriates living in that country. In fact, UAE was the top market in August 2020 and second highest in September 2020. This is something for respective marketing teams of our industry to consider when launching campaigns and activities in the current context.
Our traditional markets in Europe still continue to be featured in the top 10, but due to the various travel restrictions imposed on Maldives, we have not seen a significant number of arrivals. However, in light of the recent decline in Positive cases of COVID-19, I am hopeful that travel restrictions imposed on Maldives by our main European partners will be eased and that we will have greater performance of these markets in the future. Nevertheless, this performance does also depend on the COVID-19 situation in their respective countries as well.
Looking at the development of Tourism Industry within this period, I am delighted by the launching of the Maldives Border Miles program by Maldives Immigration, in association with the Ministry of Tourism and Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation. According to them Maldives Border Miles is a three-tiered loyalty program for tourists, whereby tourists will earn points based on the number of visits and duration of stay.This is a first of its kind in the world. We participated in the launching event of this program and we have assured our full support in making this program a success.
I am also grateful for the government’s work in establishing a travel bubble with India. Though we have not seen a significant number of arrivals from India since the travel bubble was established, possibly owing to the critical COVID-19 situation in their respective country, I suspect this development will encourage greater numbers in the near future. I am also encouraged by the fact that the Government is in negotiations with the Singaporean Government to establish a travel leisure bubble. We were invited to one of these discussions whereby the National Association of Singaporean Travel Agents participated on behalf of the Singaporean Government.
In terms of the work of MATI, this has again been a very busy period for us. Launching the very first MATI Member Portal (https://matimaldives.com/portal/), having 2 Executive Board Meetings, regular representation in the COVID-19 Tourism Taskforce, meetings with the Ministry of Tourism to discuss issues such as request for an extension of the National Loan Moratorium, submitting comments to the proposed amendments to the Employment Act and Meeting with the Minister of Economic Development to raise concerns with regard to the amendments to the Duty for liquor and Regulation of Foreign Employment, our Executive Board and team have been tireless in their efforts in advocating on behalf of our members and the industry as a whole. I believe that our workload for the final quarter of this year will be even greater, but I assure you our team is more than ready to meet and address any challenge and issue that comes our way.
As a final note, I would like to state that the gradual increase of international carriers and frequency coming to Maldives, possibilities of the establishment of more travel bubbles, potential decline of COVID-19 cases in Maldives and finish line of the race to a global vaccine becoming ever so closer, I am positive and tremendously hopeful that the Tourism Industry of Maldives will strongly bounce back in the future, hopefully the foreseeable future.
I call for greater cooperation and solidarity amongst our stakeholders and to consolidate our resolve and efforts in getting this industry as well as the entire country back on its feet.
Secretary General of MATI