Project Description

“Undoubtedly, we faced one of the most challenging periods in our history of tourism in the last year. The data provided by ForwardKeys provided essential insights that helped us navigate and persevere through the pandemic. Backed by real-time data, statistics and science, we were confident in the key decisions we made at any moment. We are deeply grateful for the insights, expertise and knowledge offered by ForwardKeys. We look forward to working closely with ForwardKeys in the years to come.”

Thoyyib Mohamed
Managing Director

Visit Maldives

The background: the Maldives

The Maldives is a tropical atoll nestled in the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea off the coast of India and Sri Lanka. The nation depends greatly on the tourism sector. In 2019, travel and tourism generated 66% of the national GDP.

The challenge: identifying new source markets

The Maldives’ ministry of tourism oversees both the regulation and promotion of the industry in the country. On the promotion side, it handles not only top-of-mind presence and marketing efforts directly to consumers but also the promotion of new air routes that allow the country to penetrate new markets or broaden its market penetration in existing ones.

At the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, its marketing and strategy team faced the challenge of identifying potentially untapped source markets to compensate for the higher frequencies of planes being grounded and Covid-19 case rates rising in the country’s traditional source markets like Germany and the US.

The ForwardKeys data solution: Actual Air Tickets

To provide a greater understanding of who was still booking and travelling abroad during the Covid-19 pandemic, ForwardKeys recommended its Actual Air Tickets dataset.

This is the most comprehensive dataset reflecting direct and indirect air bookings in the world. It shows the traveller’s journey: when they book, when they travel, what their itineraries look like, how long they stay and what they travel for.

With access to this dataset, Visit Maldives could see the market shares of key source markets, view air connectivity and ascertain the types of passengers arriving. It was noted that there was a rise in groups of 3–4 passengers, meaning families, flying in business and first class.

This news was shared with hoteliers, tour operators and promotional teams, and in a short time, the island nation once famous for honeymooning couples was branding itself as a safe and idyllic destination for affluent families from Russia, Ukraine and the UAE.

“Throughout the years, the Russian market has been one of the main source markets for the Maldives,” says Mohamed. “It is with great contentment I note that the Russian market is now the top market in terms of arrivals to the destination since we reopened our borders in July 2020. Our marketing promotions in the past year have increased demand for the destination, while the increased connectivity has helped to boost arrivals from Russia.”

The outcome: increased tourism to Maldives during pandemic

The Maldives remains one of the few destinations to boast an increase in arrivals during the pandemic.

“Our initial strategies for the market had to be completely shifted due to the pandemic,” adds Mohamed. “We altered our focus to utilise online and digital platforms to maintain the destination’s presence and partnered with some of the leading Russian tourism-related organisations, operators, travel agents and travel TV channels to spread knowledge about our destination and boost arrivals from Russia.

“I must highlight that one of our biggest advantages when it comes to promoting tourism today is the unique geographical features of the Maldives, which enable us to promote the destination as a safe haven for travellers replete with luxury offerings,” Mohamed concludes.

Visit Maldives proves that tourism can thrive in the face of a pandemic if decisions are backed by data and consider the bigger picture – from start to finish of the traveller journey.

Pictures Credit: Maldives Marketing & Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) / Visit Maldives

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