Maldives reverts to ‘Sunny side of life’ branding, targets one million tourist arrivals for 2012

The Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) has appointed staff to target specific markets for the tourism industry, in a bid to reach one million tourist arrivals in 2012.

The markets to be targeted included Italy and Japan (Ibrahim Asim), Germany and Switzerland (Fathimath Afra), UK, China and Korea (Fathimath Raheel), Russia and France (Najumulla Shareef), Spain (Fathimath Arushee), India (Aishath Rimna) and the Middle East (Mariyam Rasheed).

In a press conference on Monday, newly-appointed Deputy Minister of Tourism Mohamed Maleeh Jamaal – previously Secretary General of the Maldives Association of Travel and Tour Operators (MATATO) – said the corporation intends to launch several campaigns and PR activities in major tourist arrival markets to the country.

“We have about 102 resorts and around 26,000 beds. If each resort sets a target of bringing three more tourists to each bed, or 77 more tourists than the number that booked the resorts last year, we would easily reach the target,” Jamaal said.

He said the corporation plans to conduct joint promotion campaigns along with the tour operators and resorts, and had segmented itself to target each market.

The MMPRC revealed that it had been given a budget of Rf 70 million (US$4.5 million) to conduct marketing activities for the year.

Jamaal said that the budget for last year had been US$2.3 million, and with that budget they the country had seen the tourist arrivals of around 900,000.

“So this year, with this budget, we are confident that we can reach the target,” Jamaal said.

Jamaal expressed disappointment over the UK-based NGO Friends of Maldives (FOM)’s travel advisory, asking that potential tourists consider the idea of being a “responsible traveller” by avoiding specific resorts owned by people allegedly involved “in the subversion of democracy, and human rights abuses in the Maldives”.

“We are disappointed because, the tourism industry contributes 70 percent of every hundred rufiya every citizen of this country earns, which means from every hundred rufiya, 70 rufiyaa comes from the tourism sector. So every impact on the country’s tourism sector impacts the general living of the people,” Jamaal said.

“I think those who conducts these activities really envy the [success of] the industry. This is very sad. But we have the plans, and the capacity to overcome such negative campaigns, and therefore we will face every challenge and we will overcome that as well,” he claimed.

Regarding a reported recommendation from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that the Maldives increase the bed tax levied on the tourism industry because of the state of the economy, and a comment made during a meeting of parliament’s public finances committee about the decline of the Chinese tourism market, Jamaal said that the tourism ministry did not forecast that the decline would continue.

“The Chinese market is improving. Our [predictions] do not show that the Chinese market will decline to the extent the IMF has said, and we had a positive growth in the last three months. This gives evidence to it,” he said.

Chinese tourist arrivals dropped by 34.8 percent to 12,237 in February compared to the same point last year, according to Asian travel trade newspaper TTG.  Around 6,500 fewer tourists arrived from China last month, largely due to the cancellation of charter flights, which are expected to resume in April.

Asked about the impact  media coverage of the political instability was having on the Maldives’ reputation as a safe and stable tourism destination, Jamaal acknowledged that certain international media coverage had negatively affected tourism.

However Jamaal said he believed the situation would not significantly impact tourist interest in the Maldives as a holiday destination.

“Our efforts to counter the bad image given out by the international media will help us recover the decline,” he said.

“In order to consolidate the Chinese market, a senior delegation consisting of key government officials and members of the MMPRC, in partnerships with Mega Maldives Airlines, had decided to go to four major cities in China to meet the authorities, tour operators and journalists.

“We will build awareness in China about what has happened in the Maldives, and I am sure that after that the Chinese market will improve further,” Jamaal added.

“However, we do not believe that the Maldives will be significantly affected by these negative headlines as the destination remains popular in our major source markets like Europe. Despite the economic slowdown that has taken place across the EU, we have seen positive growth.”

Reverting back to Sunny Side of Maldives

Jamaal announced that the country would be reverting back to its former branding ‘Maldives: the sunny side of life’, instead of the ‘Always Natural’ branding introduced under Nasheed’s government.

Jamaal told Minivan News that the decision to revert back to the Sunny Side of Life branding was based on “a number of questions and research the industry had about adopting a new corporate identity for Maldives tourism.”

“At the time of the rebranding we had to ask ourselves certain questions; such as do we have the budget to support a new brand identity? Was it the best time to introduce a new message?” he said. “The Maldives like many nations around the world is facing an economic crisis.”

Jamaal claimed that relying on a strong and established brand was the best direction at present for tourism marketing, but suggested it would be “enhanced” into subcategories such as “Maldives: the Spiritual Side of Life” to promote spa operations.

“This year instead of more generic messages, we will have specific focuses on certain sectors to mirror the efforts of the country’s tourism industry,” Jamaal said.

MMPRC was established during the time of former president Mohamed Nasheed to spearhead the country’s public relations and marketing strategy, replacing the former Maldives Tourism Promotion Board (MTPB).


19 thoughts on “Maldives reverts to ‘Sunny side of life’ branding, targets one million tourist arrivals for 2012”

  1. Everything have to be as it was during the "golha" era (30 years of dictatorship). Still he says that he was not behind the coup?

  2. When this sunny side logo was discarded for 'value for money' Minivan was literally ablaze criticizing that. Now when the same logo is going to be taken back, again we are not happy! because it was not done by MDP led govt!

  3. Get the facts correct =

    1) there were 942,000 visitors last year not 900,000! Any-one should achieve 1 milllion tourists with ease, no big deal.
    2) Under the previous regime all visitor records were broken despite the Vilu Reef debacle and European recession etc
    3) The busiest month in the history of tourism was
    January 2012 - during the Spa ban = no effect to business despite the false claims from the Adalaath party and friends who are now in charge
    4) The new Deputy State Minister of Tourism was part of the committee that approved the new slogan "Always Natural" on the behalf of MATATO and the industry.

  4. @ Police guy
    When was "value for money" ever the slogan???
    What are you talking about

  5. So Anni regime thinks everything have to be as it was during "dictator Nasir 40 year old regime" naming our one and only airport in the name of worst dictator in our history plus appointing their sons and daughters to high level government positions!.. Still you guys don't think president nasheed is a PUPPET of dictator Nasir's loyalists "was responsible for the genocide in GD. Thinadhoo, killed 100s of innocent civilians which includes pregnant women and children"

  6. ...old slogan SSOL logo looks like a Carry On film comedy. Lets all go camping in Spain!! No class, does not represent the brand today at all.

  7. “We are disappointed because, the tourism industry contributes 70 percent of every hundred rufiya every citizen of this country earns, which means from every hundred rufiya, 70 rufiyaa comes from the tourism sector. So every impact on the country’s tourism sector impacts the general living of the people,”
    Well, maybe u should have thought about it before making a coup, eh ?
    “Our efforts to counter the bad image given out by the international media will help us recover the decline,”
    U have done a bad image if urself by doing a coup... International media just repoerted the truth: u have killed the democracy in this country !!
    But u know that, of course... u don't beleive to ur own crap... this is just for pple to beleive !!

  8. maleeh you have been part of the coup, thats why you have been awarded that post. now keep on defending. the stats shows a decline in tourist arrivals. its because the tourists dont want to spend their well earned money for coup leaders like gasim, champaa and them. pls have a look at the banned tourist resorts in maldives

  9. Don't waste your money promoting tourism in the U.K. - we don't want to go to an unstable, backward, corrupt country anymore.

  10. maleeh, you got your job because of who your evil brother. Jobs for the family and the old dictatorship. Every one in the industry knows this!!

    The nightmare has become a reality! Corruption is back again!!

  11. Maleeh is part of the coup, now helping himself to the country. He should be in jail for Treason as well!

  12. Amazing, this lot cause all the bad PR and blame others for their mess.They are from another planet.

    Did you vote for them??? Did anyone???

  13. You are lucky Maldives that you have managed to isolate and insulate the Tourism industry from domestic life and politics. If your politics were evident in the resorts and religious restrictions were evident there would be no tourists. If you can keep it separate you should be right. By the way the SSOL logo looks like a hangover from a Ken Done 1990's T shirt design Get with the times!

  14. "Sunny Side of Life", is ironic when the lives of the people are hardly sunny. The social development of the country has probably been set back by decades with the "unique" coup.

    Slogans make a difference only when matched with actions. Todays' tourist is discerning and considering that there is a wide range of choices, will soon realize that their money does not benefit the people but the plutocratic elite.

    No reputable International would called for sanctions, since political stability rather than justice would be their first priority. Although it is important for the message to get across to the consumers of our tourism industry, for MDP to directly call for a wholesale tourism boycott would be political suicide. No party would survive bearing responsibility for economic ruin, however noble the cause. As an individual and a citizen, I have no such qualms.

    I call for a tourism boycott, we can endure near term hardship for long term justice.

  15. @ squash
    You are right, the SSOL logo and slogan = it is an out of date Ken Done cartoon. He was big in 1988! what a joke this lot are.

  16. funny picture

    What do you think ?


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