Home Tradeline Events The Explore Maldives roadshow signifies a promising chapter in strengthening tourism ties

The Explore Maldives roadshow signifies a promising chapter in strengthening tourism ties

L-R: Zihuny Rasheed, Deputy MD, MMPRC; Ahmed Maumoon, Deputy CEO, Manta Air
L-R: Zihuny Rasheed, Deputy MD, MMPRC; Ahmed Maumoon, Deputy CEO, Manta Air

Visit Maldives and Manta Air, in partnership with key resorts and guest houses, organised the “Explore Maldives” roadshow in Bengaluru on June 26, 2024. Seizing this opportunity, TTJ interviewed Zihuny Rasheed, Deputy Managing Director, Maldives Marketing and PR Corporation (MMPRC), and Ahmed Maumoon, Deputy CEO, Manta Air, to understand their strategic mission and capture the essence of the event.

– Sonika Bohra

The aim of the “Explore Maldives” roadshow was to reignite Indian travellers’ interest in the Maldives and provide the travel fraternity with an excellent networking opportunity. Zihuny Rasheed shared insights on the current trends and challenges in promoting the Maldives to Indian tourists. India has been a key source market for the Maldives in recent years, maintaining its position as the number one destination. However, it has now fallen to sixth place. This decline has prompted MMPRC to take action to stimulate the market.

Re-engaging the Indian Market

Zihuny Rasheed, Deputy Managing Director, Maldives Marketing and PR Corporation (MMPRC),

“The Explore Maldives Roadshow is the first of many planned activities to re-engage the Indian market. In collaboration with the Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO) and the National Hotels & Guest House Association of Maldives (NHGAM), roadshows are further scheduled in New Delhi on July 30, Mumbai on August 01, and Bengaluru on August 03, 2024. There are significant opportunities in the Indian market that we aim to explore further,” said Rasheed.

One of the primary challenges the MMPRC faces is ensuring that precise and reliable information reaches the Indian market.  The Maldives is often perceived as an expensive destination, primarily because of its luxurious resorts. While the Maldives boasts top-tier luxury accommodations, it also provides a range of more affordable options. By disseminating information and creating awareness in the market, MMPRC aims to expand the market’s perception of the diverse offerings available in the Maldives. “Geopolitical factors influence Indian arrivals, but the positive relationship between India and the Maldives has enhanced views of the destination. Recent visits by the President of the Maldives to India have further strengthened this bond, creating a favourable environment for market growth,” Rasheed noted.

Rasheed highlighted several untapped opportunities in the Indian market, particularly in adventure tourism. “While families, honeymooners, and reef enthusiasts are well-catered to, there is potential in promoting activities such as diving, snorkelling, and surfing. By diversifying our tourism products, we aim to highlight the varied experiences the Maldives offers,” he said.

Manta Air’s New Connectivity

Ahmed Maumoon, Deputy CEO, Manta Air

With its recent launch of flight services to Bengaluru, the roadshow was crucial for Manta Air to establish connections within the Indian travel industry. Maumoon emphasised the benefits of the new connectivity. “Since COVID-19, we’ve seen significant demand from Indian travellers to the Maldives. Particularly in the Dhaalu Atoll, where Manta Air operates, there is a range of accommodations from ultra-luxury to budget-friendly options.”

Maumoon highlighted three main advantages for Indian tourists using Dhaalu Airport compared to traditional routes through Male. “First and foremost, travel time is reduced by four to five hours as customs and immigration processes at Dhaalu Airport are faster. Next, with only Manta Air operating, queues are shorter, allowing passengers to reach their resorts quickly. And finally, on the day of arrival, tourists can enjoy a full day at the resort, and on the day of departure, they can spend the entire day at the resort before a late check-out at 10:00 pm,” he explained.

“Manta Air operates three weekly flights between Dhaalu Airport and Bengaluru on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. We use ATR 72-600 aircraft, redesigned for comfort with 64 seats, including 16 premium economy and 48 economy seats, providing extra legroom and full meal service on board,” Maumoon detailed. Manta Air has collaborated with resorts like Kandima Maldives, Niyama Private Island, RIU Atoll, and others to offer tailored packages exclusive to Manta Air passengers. “These packages include airfare and are customised to meet Indian travellers’ preferences,” he noted.

Explore Maldives roadshow in Bengaluru

Anticipating Increased Tourist Arrivals

Maumoon expressed expectations of a significant increase in tourist arrivals from India, especially with the upcoming holiday season. “The roadshow and other promotional activities aim to inform and attract Indian travellers, making them aware of the unique benefits of flying directly to Dhaalu,” he explained. While the current focus is on strengthening the Bengaluru-Dhaalu route, Manta Air plans may consider expanding to other southern Indian cities like Cochin and Coimbatore, depending on demand and performance.

Overall, the “Explore Maldives” roadshow has created the much-needed buzz to reignite interest among Indian travellers, especially during the upcoming Diwali and Dussehra holidays. Also, the roadshow represents a significant step in strengthening the tourism bond between India and the Maldives.