The Tourism Ministry has begun discussing whether to change the recently branded ‘Maldives-Always Natural‘ slogan back to the previously slogan, ‘The sunny side of life’.
The Maldives Marketing and PR Corporation (MMPRC) re-branded the 11 year-old slogan with a US$100,000 design by Thailand-based global tourism consultancy QUO Keen in October 2011, which was met with mixed reviews from the industry and the public.
Toursim Minister Ahmed Adheeb has commenced discussions with industry representatives to decide on the change, according to local news paper Haveeru.
“Even yesterday we had discussions with various persons in the industry. Most were of the view to change it (the slogan and logo). That is why we are going to discuss this further today,” Adheeb was quoted as saying.
The idea of moving back to the old brand has been put forward as it had been used for a long time and had become familiar: “It would be easier to promote a slogan and logo familiar to a lot of people. That is the why we are determining the view of relevant people from the industry,” Adheeb said.
The new branding, including the slogan and a fingerprint logo consisting of islands, corals, turtles, sharks and herons that transitions from blue to green, was met with criticisms with some people drawing comparisons to the logo of Washington-based environmental advocacy group, Ocean Conservancy.
Speaking to Minivan News, Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO) Maleeh Jamal welcomed the talks on the reinstatement of old logo.
“We believe it is best for the destination to reinstate the sunny side of life logo,” Jamal observed.
He said that while the organisation was never against the rebranding, they had concerns over whether it was the right time to rebrand, whether enough research was done, or whether the ample budget required for a worldwide rebranding campaign was available. “These basic questions were not answered,” Jamal claimed.
“We noticed that the whole process was not carried out very well. Then we found out that the tourism marketing budget for this year was extremely small for running a new rebranding campaign worldwide,” he continued,“so I hope the change will happen because we need to restore the demand and maintain the occupancy and existing level of arrivals.”
Meanwhile, Simon Hawkins, who headed the 16 month rebranding process as the former Managing Director at the MMPRC, dismissed the move as “a rejection that spits on a democratic, multi-party decision” by committee compromising high stakeholders, including MATATO and Maldives Association of Tourism Industries (MATI).
“We followed a 16 month inclusive process with a cross section of all stake holders, including MATATO and MATI, and we also took the general public view also taken into consideration,” Hawkins observed.
“The reason it took over a year and half to rebrand was because the [former] President want the process to be democratic,” Hawkins added. “But today we are seeing the decisions changed.”
When asked whether the reinstatement of the old logo affect the toursim industry, Hawkins responded: “Slogans do not break or make an industry. This is a highly image sensitive business. Imagine a hotel where the room has not been changed for 12 years. I agree, ‘sunny side of life’ did well in its day. But we needed to change it for today’s market.”