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The Maldives, known for its high end world class resorts, popular among the rich and famous is situated in South West of Sri Lanka on the Equator comprises of 1,190 tropical islands stretching over an area of 90,000 sq Km. With an average of 30 degrees Celsius, underwater coral gardens, white sandy beaches, turquoise blue lagoons, crystal clear water and 664 Km of coastline; the Maldives offers unimaginable natural beauty and remote tropical island experience to its visitors. An array of festivities and activities can be found on the islands including superb fishing, world class surf, shopping, diving and snorkelling, whale and dolphin watching and much more.
There are 97 luxury resorts established in the Maldives currently under operation and a further 30 resorts are been developed in addition to 145 safari vessels and city hotels already operating in the country. One resort one island is the policy that has been maintained in the Maldives. Each of them is self sustained providing maximum privacy to the guest.
Tourism is the main industry in the Maldives and contributes about 32% to its GDP – a figure which could easily rise to 70% if indirect sectors relating to tourism are taken into account. Tourism generates a 5th of Maldives total employment and 70% of its foreign exchange earnings. It also accounts for 30% of the Government’s revenue. Over the last five years tourist arrivals to the Maldives have been increasing constantly except for 2005 as the region was severely devastated by the tsunami. 2007 saw a record year for Maldives Tourism with a 12.3% rise (3.8% higher then expected), a significant achievement signalling the industry was coping well with the long lasting impacts of the tsunami.
However over the last 2 years the financial crisis in Europe and the rest of the world affected the Maldivian tourism industry tremendously recording a 4 % drop in total tourist arrival.
The year 2010 looked more optimistic for the Maldivian tourism industry as signs of economies rebounding in the form of increased tourist arrival. Maldives recorded a 21 % increase in arrivals and an 8 % increase in the European segment.
It has been identified that Maldives tourism will be facing many challenges especially from man made crises such as the economic recessions and the environment degradation.
Recessions can lead to a fall in disposable income of consumers resulting in a decrease in consumption of luxury goods such as holidays. When consumers becomes increasingly pessimistic about their future in terms of reduced job security and increased financial obligations they minimizes spending dramatically worsening the economic situation further.
the environmental impact of tourism expansion can threaten the very basic experience that is being sold , the remote tropical islands with coral gardens and a vast variety of species occupying them . Activities such as snorkeling, scuba diving and reef walking ,water sports activities where power boats are used extensively can threaten the very coral reef that sustain not only an ecosystem of multi species but the barrier to erosive impacts of waves on the resort islands. Without such natural barrier the beautiful white sandy beaches the Maldives is known for will fade away replacing it with a man made barrier changing the very image of the islands.
To meet the challenges face by the Maldives tourism industry, marketers are devising strategies enhancing the image and develop products incorporating the changing needs, values and consumer behaviour while simultaneously sustaining the tourism industry.
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