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Maldives’ tourism revenue dips, shifts to guesthouses

CROSSROADS Maldives

Maldives tourism faces revenue decline, shifting preferences from resorts to guesthouses, impacting the economy.

The Maldivian tourism sector, a pivotal component of the nation’s economy, experienced a notable downturn in revenue last year, as reported by the Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI). The figures reveal a decline in resort revenue by $529 million (MVR 8 billion), marking a significant shift in the financial landscape of the tourism industry.

In 2023, total resort revenue plummeted to $3.9 billion (MVR 60 billion) from the previous year’s $4.4 billion (MVR 68 billion), contributing to an overall $406 million (MVR 6.3 billion) drop in tourism industry revenue. The downturn resulted in total tourism revenue decreasing to $5 billion, down from $5.4 billion in 2022.

Tourist Occupancy Rates and Shifting Preferences

Despite welcoming 1.7 million visitors in the past year, the Maldives observed a notable shift in tourist preferences, with an increased inclination towards guesthouses over traditional resorts. This change is reflective of evolving travel patterns and consumer choices, potentially impacting the long-established dominance of resorts in the Maldivian tourism market.

Resorts: A Tax Powerhouse Amidst Revenue Slump

Despite the downturn in revenue, resorts continue to play a critical role in the Maldivian economy, particularly in tax contributions. In 2023, resorts were responsible for generating $481 million, constituting 85% of the Tourism Goods and Services Tax (TGST) collected by the government. Additionally, resorts contributed $61 million in green tax revenue, underlining their significance beyond mere tourist attractions.

The World Bank’s Perspective and Industry Recommendations

The World Bank correlates the decrease in resort revenue to the shifting tourist preferences and anticipates a subsequent decline in tourism productivity in the Maldives. In light of these challenges, industry experts are calling on the government to implement new policies aimed at bolstering resort operations while also regulating guesthouses. Such strategic interventions are deemed essential for sustaining the Maldives’ reputation as a leading global tourism destination.

Optimistic Outlook for 2024

Despite the current setbacks, the Maldivian government remains positive about the future of its tourism sector. With a target to attract two million tourists in 2024, the upcoming inauguration of a new terminal at Velana International Airport by year-end is poised to significantly enhance the nation’s tourism capacity. The World Bank supports this optimism, projecting that the new terminal will not only increase tourism revenue but also improve overall industry productivity in 2025.

As the Maldives navigates through these turbulent times, the focus on adapting to changing tourist preferences while strengthening the foundational pillars of its tourism industry becomes ever more critical. The road ahead calls for innovative strategies, infrastructural enhancements, and a collective effort to ensure the sustainability and growth of this vital economic sector.

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George, in his capacity as an intern, diligently oversees the flow of news, assists in the publication of content, and delves into the strategies of social media distribution. He is currently pursuing his studies in Business Administration at the Athens University of Economics and Business.

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