In its endeavor to attract more Indian tourists to the exotic island nation, Maldivian Airlines is starting direct flights between Male and Mumbai from November 15 onwards. Initially to fly thrice a week, the frequency will be increased to five days a week in the months to follow. Announcing this, Ahmed Adeeb Abdul Gafoor – Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Republic of Maldives said, “The starting of direct flight between Male and Mumbai, the business capital of India, will augment the connectivity between the two countries. Depending on the tourist traffic we also plan to start direct Maldivian Airlines flights between Delhi and Male by March 2013.” Male is connected only with Thiruvananthapuram and Bengaluru through direct flights. Added the Honorable Minister, “Lack of direct connectivity from Mumbai to Male, has been a deterrent factor in choosing Maldives as a destination. With the introduction of direct flights, travel time will come down to about 2 hours 30 minutes. Return ticket to Male, inclusive of all taxes will be around INR 20,000 as per present taxes and ATF price.”
Tourism accounts for 36% of Maldives GDP. In 2011 Asia-Pacific region contributed 37.5% of the total tourist inflow in Maldives with China being the major tourism revenue generator. With the launch of direct flight to Mumbai thrice a week coupled with infrastructural developments, Maldives is looking forward to build closer economic ties with India. The Maldivian government is working on strategy to position Maldives for Indian tourists especially catering upper middle class, luxury segment and youth. While Maldives hosted 11,500 Indian tourists in 2011, the number is expected to go up to 30,000 tourists by 2013.
Maldives Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry is exploring the wedding and MICE markets from India along-with Bollywood. Commenting on this, Ahmed Adeeb Abdul Gafoor, said, “Bollywood is immensely popular in Maldives. As a nation which is tourism friendly, we are developing one island to be a studio for production work and all paraphernalia related to cinema. Maldives is a great location and it will appeal to all film makers.”
The Minister also reiterated that Maldives is a favorite country for many pre wedding functions from India. A nation that has the policy of one island one resort for privacy also has the world’s largest fleet of sea planes.