Thailand’s Singha Estate has begun construction on the largest tourism project to ever be conceived in the Maldives, a series of island developments, including the Hard Rock Café, that fetch a final price tag of $311.5 million. That such a project is being developed comes as further proof of the Maldives’ insatiable allure for tourism investors. Mohamed Haris, Acting Managing Director of the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC), says that Singha Estate is adding heat to an already hot competition between the world’s most renowned luxury hoteliers, all of which eventually find themselves in the Maldives?
What do large development projects like Singha’s Crossroads represent for the next era of tourism in the Maldives?
Singha’s investment into tourism is a very remarkable project, which is on schedule to open soon. Because of Singha’s initiative, other players who want to come and invest in Maldives will be inclined to compete to be of larger scale than Singha. The Maldives has become a competition among tourism investors around the globe. I think Singha’s initiative will give us the required visibility and promotional edge among our competitors in high-scale tourism.
It has been oft stated that the Maldives offers one of the best returns on investment in Asia. Why do you think this is?
What we provide here is very different than most of our competitors. We have been blessed with many natural coral reef islands, and the flora and fauna that live within these reefs are unique in many ways. The crystal-clear waters and pure fine white sands around our islands are rare. The exclusivity and privacy that we offer in the Maldives is tailor made. A well-protected environment, with unpolluted air and no carbon emissions, is guaranteed in the Maldives. These are the reasons why most of the world’s well-known international brands are in the Maldives today, and why there are now 11 or 12 resorts that are expected to open by the end of 2018.
How has tourist segmentation focus evolved over the years?
The Maldives is primarily positioned towards the attraction of high-net-worth luxury segments from traditional as well as emerging markets. Our main marketing strategy is to strengthen and consolidate the Maldives brand as one of the world’s premier tropical luxury destinations. As such, the Maldives’ main slogan, “The sunny side of life,” launched in 2003 and continues to be utilised today. Additionally, as contemporary consumer and travel trends indicate a shift towards greater engagement in activity/experience-based travel, market segment-focused taglines were launched in 2005 to promote the diversified tourism activities/experiences available in the Maldives. These taglines and segments are:
- Maldives… the romantic side of life
Target segment: Honeymooners and couples, portraying absolute privacy associated with the Maldives product.
- Maldives… the colorful side of life
Target segment: Scuba divers and underwater enthusiasts, portraying the vibrant and colorful coral reefs and their flora and fauna.
- Maldives… the thrilling side of life
Target segment: Water-sports lovers and adventure seekers, conveying the wide range of water sports and other thrilling activities that the Maldives offers.
- Maldives… the spiritual side of life
Target segment: Tourists who seek revitalization of their body and mind, communicating the spa and wellness-products of the Maldives.
- Maldives… the fun side of life
Target segment: Tourists seeking a fun holiday with their families and friends, communicating activities for the whole family to enjoy.
- Maldives… the Maldivian side of life
Target segment: Tourists seeking to combine their beach resort holiday with interaction with the lifestyles of local people.
How important are Gulf visitors for the Maldives these days?
The UAE and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are a really important market for us. Not because their economy is strong and it is affordable for them to visit the Maldives, but because of shared Muslim values we have. If someone moves around our islands, they’ll notice that our culture has a huge influence from the Gulf. I think the Maldives is a very peaceful and moderate Muslim country, where we have got a lot to offer GCC visitors. We kindly extend an open invitation for all, especially our Muslim brothers and sisters, to visit and experience the natural beauty that we’ve been gifted.