Maldives tourism contemplates Beckham effect after “hard days” of 2012

Senior tourism figures have welcomed unconfirmed reports that football superstar David Beckham is currently on vacation in the Maldives, claiming such a high profile figure creates significant publicity for the destination following well publicised unrest earlier this year.

UK-based newspaper “the Sun” reported that Beckham arrived in the Maldives earlier this week with his wife and children for a £250,000 (MVR 6.2 million) vacation at the One and Only Reethi Rah resort as part of an eleven day festive holiday.

“The hotel boasts 130 private villas, 12 beaches, 40 pools and its own SEAPLANE,” the newspaper reported. “The Beckhams’ suite is the priciest available, costing £8,600 (MVR 213,892) a night — or £6 (MVR 149) a minute. But they have booked three more, each costing £3,700 (MVR 92,015) a night, taking the room bill alone to £217,000 (MVR 5.3 million).”

When contacted by Minivan News this week, a spokesperson for One and Only Resorts told Minivan News that no guest under the name David Beckham was presently staying at the property, adding the company could not speculate on potential customers.

Very Very Important Persons

Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Ahmed Adheeb Ghafoor also refused to confirm news reports of the Beckhams’ holiday plans, but claimed that if they were true, such a visit would have a very strong impact on the Maldives’ international reputation as a luxury destination.

Amidst ongoing work to outline a fourth official tourism master plan detailing industry developments over the next few years, Adheeb stressed that it was important to remember that the Maldives was already considered something of a “celebrity destination”.

Following February’s controversial transfer of power, the incoming government of President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan sought to utilise public relations groups and advertising to try and offset the perceived impact of negative news headlines following the transfer of power.

This focus has included agreeing a US$250,000 (MVR 3.8million) advertising deal to promote the country’s tourism industry on the BBC through sponsorship of its weather services, as well as signing a £93,000 per month (US$150,000) contract with public relations group Ruder Finn to try and improve the country’s image internationally.

Tourism Minister Adheeb explained to Minivan News that along with the signing of high-profile marketing contracts to advertise the destination, the arrival of major sporting and entertainment figures was an important means of garnering the world’s attention.

Contemplating the wider potential for boosting the Maldives’ reputation for secluded exclusivity at its island resorts, the tourism minister claimed that his ministry has been working with exclusive tour operators that worked with high-profile clients by supplying information on the destination.

“We have been briefing them with information about how exclusive and private the Maldives is, it is also free of paparazi,” he said, adding that a large number of high-profile guests had travelled to the Maldives over the last few year; from actors and screen stars, to the world’s biggest sporting names. “We want them to know how unique is it here. The exclusivity we give is unique, it cannot be matched.”

Adheeb claimed that efforts were also presently being undertaken to try and bring big name and ultimately lucrative Very Very Important Persons (VVIPs) to the country through efforts such as establishing exclusive lounges and other related services at the country’s airports.

“Right now we are formulating policies to encourage more VVIPs to the Maldives. They can add a lot of value to a destination solely on the grounds that so many people follow them,” the tourism minister claimed.

Adheeb added that the Maldives government had not sent invites or packages to high-profile guests directly as part of this focus, mainly owing to present budget limitations.  However, the minister stressed that efforts were being undertaken by his ministry to provide crucial information about the Maldives to exclusive travel groups.

“There is a lot of information out there on the Maldives. We have seen new reports this year about whether the Maldives is unsafe,” he said.  “We want to let the world know how unique a destination it is.  How safe it is.  How can we then give mores exclusivity to VVIPs? We offer privacy, the islands are free of paparazzi, that’s how we have made the Maldives unique. It is a celebrity destination.”

Adbeeb did not comment on whether the government had made any direct approach to try and bring superstars such as David Beckham to holiday to the Maldives, but he added that authorities were always willing to accommodate the needs of high-profile guests wishing to come to the country.

Minivan News has been informed by confidential sources that the Maldives Police Service had worked to asses safety for a member of the Saudi royal family ahead of a visit to the country this month along with an entourage to stay at a private island residence.

Police Spokesperson Sub-Inspector Haneef was not responding to calls at the time of press.

“Positive message”

From the perspective of the tourism industry, the general manager of one of Male’ Atolls larger resorts said that media coverage of David Beckham’s reported visit to the Maldives gave a very “positive message” to both key markets in the UK as well as the wider world.

“Here is someone who can go anywhere in the world, but has chosen to stay [in the Maldives]. It serves to highlight this is a premier place,” the manager said.

While the Maldives’ secluded tourism resort properties were sheltered from local political upheavals following February’s transfer of power, resulting media reports were perceived as having a negative impact on arrival numbers.

Considering this media coverage, the resort general manager said that coverage of a visit by someone as renowned globally as David Beckham “was a start” in shifting attention to the country’s potential strengths as a tourist getaway rather than on domestic strife.

“It is great publicity and helps brings attention for the right sort of reasons,” the GM added.

Similar sentiments were shared by Secretary General of the Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI), ‘Sim’ Mohamed Ibrahim, who claimed that the combining the Beckham brand with the Maldives was a positive development needing to be built up by those marketing the destination.

“Beckham belongs to the world and not only to soccer (football). Anything to do with him is absolutely high value PR. We can only hope the marketing people will handle this important event for the best interest of Maldives tourism,” he told Minivan News.

Sim added that it was also vital to the industry to ensure that such a high-profile potential visit was not used to politicise recent troubles and challenges affecting the industry.

“Hijacking the event for political mileage would be destructive. There is more than one side to any story and the online media can be used by almost anybody, for what purpose. Interesting times.”

“Interesting times”

Since the industry’s foundation 40 years ago, the vast majority of tourists coming to the Maldives have stayed at its secluded island resorts that are classed as uninhabited. This distinction makes the resorts exempt from local laws that outlaw the sale and consumption of alcohol and pork products, as well as openly practising any faith other than Sunni Islam.

This resort model also keeps most tourists away from the partisan politics of the country, as well as the  unrest that occurred in the capital of Male’ and other islands earlier this year.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed has previously called for a tourism boycott of the Maldives, as both himself and his supporters continue to question the legitimacy of the government of President Dr Mohamed Waheeed Hassan – his former vice president.

However, these calls were soon dropped by Nasheed and supporters of the now opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).  The party is still pressing for early elections despite a Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) concluding the transfer of power in February was constitutional.

Despite wider fears about the impact of political uncertainty, Deputy Tourism Minister Mohamed Maleeh Jamal claimed back in September that “the hard days” were over for the Maldives tourism industry following the release of the CNI’s findings.

In terms of visitor numbers for the year so far, arrivals were found to have risen 2.4 percent between January and November when compared to the same period in 2011.
Official figures from the Tourism Ministry indicated that as of November 2012, 866,310 tourists have arrived in the country over the last 11 months. By contrast, 845,732 arrivals were recorded visiting the Maldives between January and November in 2011.

Earlier this year, the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) had set a target of attracting one million visitors to the country by the end of 2012.

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13 thoughts on “Maldives tourism contemplates Beckham effect after “hard days” of 2012”

  1. The new regime that took office has had twice the budget and then the previous regime and ir has resulted in less European high spending tourists (such as the Beckhams) but has flooded the resorts with low spending Chinese tourists. Tourism is in serious trouble here.

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  2. infidels the backbone of Maldives economy while Maldivians muslims day dream of them burning in hell for being kafirs!

    freaking hypocrites, where is that Imran? Islamdheenathakaa Beckham beyru kurey.

    LOL

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  3. I will do everything and anything to urge the world outside NOT to come to Maldivistan : abuse, rape, torture and murder of political opponents. Extremists rule and forbid lustful musice, dance, sining. They flog minor girls who are raped. They have mafioso for judges. The Backbone Breaker wants to be president. They send us to Somalia for medical treatment and steal our tax money to go to Singapore or USA for their same .... more of course.

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  4. The tourism is in great danger; the current trend of publicity Maldives is getting can cause long term damage to Maldives Tourist industry. Maldives is now getting publicity as a troubled Islamic extremist small nation and hardly spoken as Tourist heaven. If this trend is not changed, Maldives will be slowly forgotten by new generation of tourist world.
    Maldives needs to isolate Islamism’ from the mainstream publicity and divert attention from pity politics to serious business. Media can make a big change; they should stop covering Adaalath and Islamic movement so that they can be ignored by the general public and focus on promoting tourism and stop broadcasting religious programs that covers all Maldivian media of reciting Quran, prayers, cemeteries and Islamic preaching.

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  5. Excellent idea, Tuna Blood (yellow fin tuna ?).
    "If it happens, do no talk about and thus it does not exist" ...
    Do not report on it, do not show on TV what happens daily to the ordinary people because of - and done by - those extremists. Do not report on the sexual abuse of inferior women, do not report about courts citing "cursed roosters' to do searches. Do not talk about "it looked at she was doing black magic, so we arrested her and found one not used condom. Which IS black magic."
    Of course, do not report anymore about the house arrest (stop school) and flogging of minor girls, because they were raped ...... Do not report about the murder of Dr. Afrasheem, shouted on as a unbeliever, summoned by Ministry Islam (?) Affairs (??), murdered when police protection was withdrawn.
    Of course, it was a bad mistake too, to report on the bomb blast, and on the Maldivians who "study" in Pakistan and and and

    Do not talk about, then is has not happened.

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  6. Hey, are these senior officials blind or mis-informed!!!!!

    We have had celebrities coming to maldives in the past many years and they have spent more than the peanuts Beckam has spent.

    Chelsea owner spends more than triple the amount, tennis superstar Federer has spent every year thrice that amount. Saudhi sheiks pour millions...and all these guys would like their privacy

    Wake up guys...dont proud yourselves when simple Maldivians cant afford to pay basic bills, let alone buy rotting fish in the market.

    This publicity will actually scare celebrities as they are here for privacy not to boost our ailing economy, corruption and dirty politics!

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  7. One celebrity arrives in the Maldesh, and Adheeb's pants are wet! Small wonder then that the tourism industry is in trouble.

    The last thing these "celebrities" need is publicity about their holiday! The one and only the'd really like some peace is when they are on holiday. Adheeb, did you get that?

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  8. Nasheed and his coward friends will do anything to harm the economy with the hope that he will be able to come back to power again.

    Nasheed principles are total dictatorship and make the people as slaves. His policies is to make the country go bankrupted and then people will start to beg from him for food, shelter etc.

    You this kind of approach was made by " Firoh " also and he first made the people to suffer from hunger and then started giving food to those he wish to be given and then make suffer the others.

    When it has come to point where people have to depend on the Firoh for everything, then he started ask the people to bow their heads and made himself as the God.

    We need to learn the lesson from this kind of thing from the History.

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  9. WHAT EVERYONE SHOULD UNDERSTAND AND SEE IS THAT ADHEEB IS NOT SUITABLE AND HE DOESNT HAVE THE SLIGHTEST IDEA HOW TO MANAGE THE TOURISM INDUSTRY WHAT HE IS AND IS DOING IS DESTROYING WHAT IS LEFT AND WHAT HAD BEEN BUILD DURING THE FIRST EVER "GOOD DEMOCRATIC LEADER 'LIKE PRESIDENT NASHEED....AND THE ONE B4 MAUMOON ABDUL GAYOOM , SO PLS HELP MALDIVES REGAIN THE PEACEFULNESS AND PROPER GOVERNMENT WHICH WAS ELECTED ON NOV 2008 NOT THE ONE WHICH WAS TOPPLED ON FEB 7TH 2012 BY A GROUP OF POLITICALLY UNSTABLE FEW PEOPLE, IF THIS HAD NOT HAPPENED NO ONE HAD TO WORRY ABOUT THE FOREIGN RELATIONS , TOURISM, BILATERAL RELATIONS , MALDIVIAN RULES AND REGULATIONS AND THE NEWLY FOUND ISLAMIC FANATIC'S WHO HAD BEING GIVEN CHANCE TO PLAY HAVOC ON SENSITIVE ISSUES AND THE GOVERNMENT, MY FINAL VIEW IS " IF YOU CANNOT CONTROL THE PEOPLES POWER(DEMOCRATIC POWER) THEN IT'S BETTER TO LEAVE THE OFFICE AND LET THE PEOPLE DECIDE ONCE AGAIN WHAT THEY REALLY WANTS WHY HOLD ON TO SOMETHING WHICH YOU YOURSELF TRULY HAD NO POWER OR HOLD TO SAY OR DO ANYTHING WHEN SO MANY LEADERS ON THE SAME CHAIR BEHIND THE SCREEN AND YOU HAD TO TAKE ALL THE BLAME TO YOURSELF AND DESTROY YOURSELF WHILE OTHERS ARE LAUGHING AT YOU AND ACCUSING YOU OF ALL THE FAILURES ...I HOPE YOU DECIDE YOUR OWN DECISION THIS TIME , THIS IS NOT THE 18TH CENTURY SO DONT THINK ANYONE CAN DISSAPER AFTER DOING WORST TO A CITY WHICH WAS DOING BETTER UNTIL YOU CAME TO POWER AND TOPPLED THE DECISIONS OF THE MAJORITY OF THE MALDIVIAN PEOPLE, THIS IS NOT A GAME ITS A QUESTION OF REAL LIFE AND REAL PEOPLE LIVING IN IT SO LIVE IN THE REALITY NOT A KALEIDOSCOPE LIKE THE ONE WHICH IS SHOWN TO YOU BY THE MILITARY LEADER NAZI - NAZIM WHO TOO CAME TO POWER WITH SO MANY UNANSWERED QUESTIONS AND ALSO THE REST OF THE CURRENT MEMBERS AS WE SEE NOW IN THE GOVERNMENT. AND WE SEE ONE BY ONE HE IS CONTROLLING THE GOVERNMENT FIRST THE DEFENCE THEN AIRPORT AND NOW IMMIGRATION AND EMMIGRATION WHAT ELSE WOULD YOU GIVE HIM OR LET HIM TAKEOVER WHILE YOU SAY YOU ARE THE PRESIDENT .....DONT THINK ONLY TILL YOUR NOSE LOOK AROUND YOU AND WHATS HAPPENING AROUND YOU DO YOU THINK THIS IS DEMOCRATIC COUNTRY YOU N THE FAILED LEADERS COMBINED TOGETHER ARE LEADING OR WHAT WOULD YOU CALL IT , LET THIS THIS STOP EVERYTHING IS GOING UNDER MILITARY DO YOU SEE AND WHAT IS HAPPENING TO THIS PEACEFUL COUNTRY BECAUSE OF YOU, WAKE UP AND LEAVE WHILE YOU CAN AND LIVE WHERE YOU WERE ALL THESE YEARS AND LET THE PEOPLE DECIDE THERE PRESIDENT AND BRING PEACE TO THIS COUNTRY .......

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  10. Don't want to say, "I told you so". As I said, celebrities really value their privacy. Beckham has had enough of him being used by the Maldesh regime as a political asset. He's flown out! Nice one, Adheeb. What next?

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