Luxury tour operator highlights 35 percent slump in Maldives bookings

High-end luxury tour operator Hayes & Javis – part of the TUI group which also includes Thomson Holidays – has reported a 35 percent slump in bookings to the Maldives.

The company’s ‘long-haul trends’ report observed a similar slump in Caribbean island destinations, with Barbados down 51 percent and Antigua 58 percent.

“While off-the-peg beach packages are still popular – especially four and five-star all inclusive ones – there is no doubting the steady decline in demand for traditional fly-and-flop beach holidays,” said Hayes & Javis’ Commercial Head, Sean Dowd.

At the same time, the UK-based luxury operator noted an 11 percent rise in bookings to Mauritius, and similar increases for Tobago (16 percent) and the Dominican Republic (14 percent),” fuelled by the affordability of five-star all inclusive resorts”.

“Mauritius may yet prove to be the new Maldives. Strong airfare and hotel offers, high quality all inclusive resorts and the opportunity to twin with Dubai and other cities have all helped to fuel demand,” he added.

Implying that the trend away from ‘fly-and-flop’ holidays was not solely recession-related, Dowd observed that the operator’s multi-centre trip bookings “have doubled over the past two years because growing numbers of people are keen to see more of what a country – or a region of the world – has to offer when they travel further afield.”

The report noted that the destinations “making waves in 2013 are ones which lend themselves to a combination of city, beach and culture or heritage tours.”

“Multi-centre trips now account for over a third of our business and this growth trend is one which we expect to accelerate,” Dowd said.

Bad PR and changing demographics

The Hayes & Javis report attributes the sharp slump in Maldives bookings to “tough market conditions including increased land costs and poor exchange rates”, however the destination has recorded a steady increase in arrivals from around the world.

Tourism arrivals to the Maldives during the first quarter of 2013 were up 14.6 percent on the previous year, however up to a quarter of all arrivals at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) are now Chinese, with the market eclipsing the country’s traditional staple of European holidaymakers. Some 70,570 Chinese arrivals were recorded for the first quarter of 2013, an increase of 51.2 percent over the same period last year.

Beyond changing demographics, the Maldives has also grappled with widespread negative global publicity in the wake of a flogging sentence handed to a 15 year-old rape victim in February.

The incident, which received particularly high volumes of media attention in the country’s core European markets – the UK and Germany – led to a petition calling for a moratorium on flogging by activist website Avaaz. The petition reached two million signatures barely a week – twice the annual number of visitors to the Maldives.

President Dr Mohamed Waheed pledged to appeal the sentence given to the minor by the country’s Juvenile Court, and review local laws to enact potential reforms of the use of flogging. No timeline for such reforms was set.

The tourism ministry meanwhile slammed what it labelled the “dubious” motives of the petition, alleging it to be “politically motivated”.

Deputy Tourism Minister Mohamed Maleeh Jamal in March said tourism had been a key driver of national development and democratic reforms in the Maldives for the last 40 years, and had “sacred” importance in the Maldives.

“People should not be doing anything to damage the industry. In Switzerland, you would not see a campaign designed to damage Swiss chocolate. Likewise you would not see a German campaign to damage their automobile industry,” he told Minivan News at the time.


11 thoughts on “Luxury tour operator highlights 35 percent slump in Maldives bookings”

  1. Whatever culture and heritage we had has been destroyed by the Arab invaders. As it happened during the conversion, people are being beheaded and statues are being smashed by the fanatics. The lock folk religion and culture has been systematically replaced by a fanatical desert cult complete with wardrobe. The flogging case is just a symptom of the Arab imperialism. Islamists do not want these infidels coming to Dhivehistan's islands and drinking alcohol and eating pork. I'm sure they'd welcome this decline with chants of Allah-something or other.

  2. There are many other reasons which attribute to the declining arrivals from European markets. It is also important for the people to understand that, the high increase in the Chinese market doesn't help the economy much, except for the resort owners who enjoy a high room rate, and Airport Company that makes good money from duty free sales.

    What does Maldives offer to European tourist market compared to other tropical destinations such as Mauritius, Caribbean, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Seychelles and rising African countries? NOTHING unique.

    As the tour operator mentioned, many other destinations are offering top 5 star facilities on all-inclusive basis. These destinations give the guest an opportunity to venture out, explore the country, engage in more outdoor activities at will.

    In maldives, even simple guest houses are a rip-off selling tiny poorly equipped rooms at $100, whilst the major resort players expect more that US$500 for room only, offering absolutely NOTHING special, but bad service, boring atmosphere, military atmosphere of caging staff, and extremely high prices in everything. A bottle TAZA (1.5ltr) water in Male costs about Rf.5/- in a simple resort its not less that $4 and a fine resort it goes for $7. Simple fish and chips that English love cost $15-25 on resorts, a beer goes for over $7 dollars. The service is in most cases appalling because the staff are not happy as it were 15 years ago.

    Step down at Colombo, Malaysia, Bangkok, Seychelles, Mauritius, Dareslaam India, and you may thing something is terrible wrong in Maldives. Food & drink is cheap, service is fantastic and people welcoming...activities are so much and boredom hardly exists. Many religions and crimes exist in these countries but no conflicts within people, no idiocity on the governments not extremism control the country.

    Chinese don't give a s**t whether the children on local islands go to school or not. Whether crime rate is high, whether women and children are denied their rights. All they care is to take hundreds of photographs, see anything that looks new to them, spend the least on F&B, diving, water sports but spend thousands at duty free buying perfume, chocolates, and expensive rare whiskies. Average expenditure of a chinese per day on a resort is less that $30. What a joke!

    An English, a German, A French or most Europeans would spend minimum $100-500 per day on dinning, diving, water sports or in the spa. Europeans would care of how local people live and they like to interact with staff, but our beautiful resorts DO NOT allow guests to mix with staff like it used to be 15 years ago(maybe less than 10 resorts allow) Local and Asian staff CANNOT have physical relations between themselves (How cruel) but management staff can. Women and children being abused, human trafficking and religious extremism are some issues that make European markets give up on this lovely country that is gradually becoming another Pakistan.

    Many of us have worked in tourism for over 30 years so i say BULLs**T to media or law makers trying to make the public think we are doing fine, yet we are as broke as Somalia 20 years ago. We can have 100% occupancy, 1 million chinese arrivals but the room money they pay is sent directly to off shore accounts in other countries. We get peanuts from the $20 dollars they spend on fishing trips or in our green market. So who gains? We simple unfortunate citizens suffer, and continue to suffer while a few get fatter and richer.

    Europe economies are collapsing...and they are looking at value for money destinations, and sooner or later, we will have no one from Europe not even the ability to talk to them or get aid. Just visit Sri Lanka and you will see for yourself the mess politicians, religious scholars, and greedy businessmen in Maldives have done to us.

  3. The main reason for the slump in tourist numbers is that resort prices have gone up substantially in order to pay for the coup.

  4. Tourism and all economic activities are going to die down slowly in Maldives, unless there is a change. We can see this happening now. There is strong need for policy change. A small government, and public private partnership and small entrepreneurs based economy can save the country from the collapse.
    If this does not happen, the stress on economy will be doubled in the next one year. The Government will try to increase taxes to cut down the deficit budget putting all pressure on Tourism and ultimately the Maldivian tourism will be unaffordable to average travelers. Hope Anni will be elected and he will not try to meddle with his opponents and would rather try to accommodate them and implement his economic policies. And run educational programs for people to get involved in small business rather than working as government employees.

  5. ah, changing trends "from ‘fly-and-flop’ holidays" to more people wanting to see "more of what a country has to offer".

    im sorry, but all we have today is resorts separate from islands. MDP guest house policy could change this (i hope it does).

    but what do we have to offer now? we dont even know what it means to be maldivian or what maldives is today. our culture have been replaced by that of islamist arab invaders and western influences.

    perhaps we could show tourists public floggings and stoning of fornicators at galolhu football stadium. we could show them bearded military brothers executing apostates on a white sandy beach, magically turning crystal clear water into blood. what a sight! perhaps concubine business, child bride and bacha bazi business would prosper. masha allah.

  6. We need MDP back to fix this economy, start micro economy and kick out extremists and coup leaders who MUST be jailed or leave this country for good.

  7. All I could say is what you have seen and what I have seen is totally Different! Maldives is the best and most heavenly place on earth and some of you may dont like to hear this. But its simply True. due to the political disagreement you cant deny the truth...

  8. How can Jameel compare the value of a Swiss bar of chocolate or a German car, to the value of innocent girl due to be publically flogged???


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