Maldives has recently launched Maldives Halal Travel (MHT); along with its platform of products including the Maldives Halal Travel Magazine. The objective is to attract wealthy Muslim travelers from the Middle East and other markets.
Dr. Hussain Sunny Umar, the Managing Director of MHT said that the platform has a market worth potential of over USD189 billion while the main objective is to attract Muslim travelers to the Maldives – mainly from the GCC region.
This indicates that the tourism industry in the country is already exploring bolder new routes in a bid to expand its ever-evolving consumer base.
Ideally, this is also a fresh move by top stakeholders of the tourism industry to steer away from relying on the traditional tourist markets to the Maldives. In light of the Covid-19 pandemic’s impact, the necessity of exploring potential new markets to the island nation has become even more important.
In 2020, the country’s reliance mainly on the European market for tourist arrivals was met with a rather unpleasant outcome due to several countries in the said region shutting out their respective international aviation operations amid the pandemic outbreak. This, in turn, resulted in a significant and noticeable decline in tourist arrivals to the Maldives.
So much so, that the tourist arrivals to the Maldives in annual terms did not penetrate beyond 600,000 arrivals by the end of 2020.
On the other hand, assessing the current international travel to the trend also provides a good portrait of new and emerging markets that can become major source markets to the Maldives. India, which has never been a significant source market to the country in the previous years is currently the top source market with more than 250,000 arrivals from the South Asian giant so far.
Halal Tourism comes into play following the curbs in the international traveler trends due to the ongoing pandemic. As such, the tourist arrivals from the Middle-Eastern region indicated an increment of over 280% during 2020 and 2021.
This is a clear indication of the growing popularity of Maldives in the said region, and the island nation’s government is already taking steps to ensure that the diversification of the market segmentation plays out in favor of robust and expansive tourism industry.
Meanwhile, several prominent tourist properties have been extensively promoting themselves as ‘Halal Friendly’ properties to attract Muslim travelers from across the world. Some of the most notable of these properties include the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru, Six Senses Laamu among several other top-notch tourist resorts.
Perhaps the next breed of tourist properties in the Maldives may take a few extra steps to ensure they are attractive enough to Muslim travelers from the Middle East and other countries by developing their properties in Arabian-inspired themes – a general idea that could be incorporated handsomely.
After all, gone are the days of every single tourist resort banking on the traditional thatch-roofed villas; many of the recent tourists, properties have opted towards contemporary and futuristic designs while several other properties have based their architectural designs on popular Mediterranean cultures. Some of these resorts have fashioned their lodgings and buildings after popular Thai designs as well, so there is always the scope for infusing popular foreign cultures into the Maldivian tourism industry.
So, if executed right, then the next set of properties in the Maldives could very well have more Halal-centric themes found in its architecture and even the cuisine.
In the Maldives, tourism recovers as the wealthy take a break from the pandemic. The rise of omicron cases may dampen the market a bit as Europe and North America have canceled thousands of flights. However, Middle Eastern tourists may provide a significant boost to the local tourism industry.