Maldives celebrates 50 years of Tourism

Maldives celebrates the Golden Jubilee of its tourism industry on October 3rd, 2022. The date marks the anniversary of the official opening of its first tourist resort that led to the inception of the tourism industry in the Maldives.

The impact of the establishment of Kurumba Maldives, the first tourist resort in the Maldives has been monumental, and it remains a driver for visitation 50 years on. And with that, Maldives has set the scene for the ultimate vacation experience in what is renowned as the paradise on Earth.

Tourism today contributes to 26% of the Maldives GDP, 80% of total exports, 40% of employment in the Maldivian economy and half of total revenues. Today, 162 resorts and 631 guesthouses are in operation, breaking new grounds and scaling greater heights in the tourism industry. In 2013, Maldivian tourism industry crossed the one million mark in tourist arrivals generating a significant annual growth rate of 17%. In 2019, the industry attained its subsequent milestone with a new high of 1.7 million tourist arrivals and a significant 15% annual growth in the sector with Asian markets overtaking the number of tourist arrivals in comparison to high-performing markets such as Europe in its preceding years.

In 2020, Maldives tourism suffered its worst year on record due to the halt in international travel as a measure to curb the Covid-19 pandemic. With the gradual containment of the virus and concerted efforts from the government, the Maldives managed to recover and rebuild the tourism industry in the peak of unprecedented times. The Maldives re-opened its borders for air travel in as little as 3 months after the border closure. If there is one destination that has defied the pandemic, the Maldives stands as a number one contender in terms of its quick recovery from the detrimental effects from the pandemic.

As the government’s effective Covid management strategies have cushioned the damages that the tourism industry felt, the Government of Maldives is now focused on new ways to rethink how tourism is done. This includes putting people and the environment first, consolidating strategies to bring the government, businesses and local communities together around a common vision for sustainable, inclusive and a resilient sector.

With a target to add 35,000 new beds to the sector and opening of the new runway in the main international airport, the Government foresees 2 million arrivals in 2023. Manifesting on the sector’s unique ability to drive economic development to the Maldives, and the important role that the tourism industry plays in spearheading growth and improving the livelihood of the Maldivian people, the Government of Maldives sets new policies around enhancing the Maldives image as a premier destination for tourism investments.

Full ownership of investments and land lease of up to 99 years are allowed for investors in the tourism sector, with new space now created for investors to invest in local communities for guesthouse tourism. Investments can range from resort development, integrated tourism development projects, investments for the development of private islands and tourism real-estate, luxury accommodation, city hotels and smaller investments in related industries as we recognize the important role tourism plays in preserving and promoting culture and heritage.

Tourism investments are also welcome in expanding the culture and wellness tourism, ecotourism, adventure tourism and innovative concepts that foster the development of the Maldivian tourism industry contributing to all three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social and environment.

Beyond the tranquility in our white shores and versatile images in the Maldivian undersea, it is the Maldivian people, our warmth, our personal touch and effort that ensures that visitors enjoy a unique personal experience and a memorable stay in the Maldives. The Maldives is geared to raising the bar in the quality of services and the experiences it offers to visitors as we continue to welcome greater heights to the industry and supercharge the tourism sector development for generations to come.