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Maldives gets Safe Travels Stamp granted by World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC)

The World Travel and Tourism Council has recognized the effort’s of Maldives in implementing enhanced health and safety measures, in line with the WTTC global Safe Travels protocols, and creating a safe, gradual plan by rebuilding confidence among travellers and ensuring a coordinated approach in restarting our Tourism industry.

Maldives achieved the Safe Travels Stamp, which is endorsed by the World Tourism Organization and more than 200 travel companies. The objective of the Safe Travel Stamp is to provide confidence to travellers and re-establish consumer confidence in Travel & Tourism and ensure travellers of enhanced standards of hygiene are in place and the assurance that they can once again experience ‘Safe Travels’. It is the world’s first ever global safety and hygiene stamp for Travel & Tourism, designed to address COVID-19 and similar outbreaks.

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) also embraced the WTTC Safe Travels stamp, which has the safety and hygiene of travellers as their top priority. Since the launch of the stamp, major destinations around the world have signed up to the world’s first ever global safety and hygiene stamp.


Flyme operates its first international commercial flight

Villa Air company’s airline Flyme has operated its first international commercial flight on 4th Sep. A charter flight to Bandaranaike International Airport, Sri Lanka carrying 72 passengers departed Velana International Airport with a brand-new ATR 72-600 aircraft, and it is the first time the local airline had a launch into the international aviation platform.

Villa Air revealed that they have been discussing taking Flyme to international skies since 2019 and noted that they will schedule flights between Maldives and Sri Lanka as soon as the neighboring nation reopens borders. Flyme is expecting to launch scheduled operations to neighboring India as well.

With this international operation, Villa Air will be able to ‘contribute a faster recovery of the Maldivian economy as countries slowly open their borders’ said the company.

Following the successful operation, Villa Air applauded the efforts of the entire team, who over the years contributed to this project to bear fruit.

Flyme operations were launched in 2011 and was an operator of domestic flights in Maldives. The airline currently has a fleet of four ATR aircrafts consisting of one 72-passenger capacity ATR 72-600, two 68-passenger capacity ATR 72-500 and one 48-passenger capacity ATR 42-500 aircraft.


Visitors to have Covid-19 negative report when entering Maldives effective 10th Sep

All visitors arriving in the Maldives will be required to present a negative Covid-19 PCR test certificate upon arrival, from next week. The rule will come into effect from 10th Sep 2020 and is applicable for all tourists and short term visitors arriving in Maldives.

The updated circular in this regard by The Maldives Ministry of Tourism states:

"To ensure the safety of all, the Health Protection Agency has made it mandatory for all tourists to present a negative result for a nucleic test (PCR test) for Covid-19 on arrival effective 10th Sep 2020. The sample for the said test must be taken not more than 72 hours prior to the scheduled time departure from the first point of embarkation en route to Maldives. However please be informed that infants aged less than one year are exempted from the aforementioned testing requirement. For any further queries please contact our hotline (960) 7223131 or reach out to us via e-mail smu@tourism.gov.mv"

Maldives closed its borders following the Covid-19 pandemic on 27th March for nearly 4 months. Although reopened on 15th July during the 3rd phase of lockdown easing, visitors were not required to present PCR test results.

There has been an increase in cases reported from resorts since the country reopened for tourism in July.

According to authorities, the decision to make visitors present negative PCR tests comes after the decision to allow tourists to move from one resort to another to encourage longer stays. Further, the Maldives guesthouses are set to reopen on 15th October.


Lily Beach Resort & Spa awarded Best Luxury All-Inclusive Resort in Maldives

Lily Beach Resort & Spa has been crowned the winner of the Luxury Lifestyle Awards 2020 in the category of ‘The Best Luxury All-Inclusive Resorts in Maldives’. This award recognizes Lily Beach Maldives’ excellent all-inclusive Platinum Plan and its great facilities.

Lily Beach is the perfect destination for couples, honeymooners and families alike. Romance thrives at Lily Beach, with great activities on offer. With a soft sandy beach and crystal clear, shallow lagoons for children to frolic, a Turtle Kids Club, great snorkelling excursions for the whole family to enjoy, Lily Beach offers every member of the family the chance to relax, have fun and have incredible experiences… And all this is included in the all-inclusive Platinum Plan, for a hassle-free holiday.

“On behalf of the whole team at Lily Beach Resort & Spa, we would like to thank our guests for trusting us and helping us to strive in what we do,” a statement by the resort read.

Lily Beach Resort & Spa, Maldives has also been voted as the number 1 all-inclusive resort in Asia for the 3rd consecutive year and ranked the 11th all-inclusive resort in the World at the TripAdvisor Travelers Choice Awards 2020.


Radisson Blu Resort Maldives opens

Radisson Hotels, the upscale brand that delivers personalized service in stylish spaces, began welcoming guests to Radisson Blu Resort Maldives on Aug 4, 2020, as the hotel group's first property in the Maldives. Nestled on Huruelhi Island and one other pristine islet in the Alifu Dhaalu Atoll, only 105 kilometers from Malé's Velana International Airport, Radisson Blu Resort Maldives makes this dream destination more accessible than ever before. Guests can take a scenic 30-minute seaplane direct to the resort or a 20-minute domestic flight from Malé to Maamigili Airport followed by a 15-minute speedboat ride, creating opportunities for short stays and weekend breaks as well as extended vacations, weddings and honeymoons.

All 128 beachfront or overwater villas ranging from 215 to 790 square meters feature private pools, ocean views, state-of-the-art amenities and one, two or three bedrooms. For the ultimate getaway, the Presidential Suite promises two levels of indoor and alfresco living space overlooking the shimmering sea. Guests can explore the amazing marine world from the diving and water sports center, soothe their senses at the overwater spa and yoga pavilion, or work out at the fitness center and sports court, while the kids' club and games room will keep young guests entertained. The glass-walled Event Hall creates an outstanding setting for life's most special moments, including oceanfront weddings that can host up to 50 guests.

Radisson Blu Resort Maldives joins an expanding collection of Radisson Blu hotels and resorts in many of the world's key business and leisure markets. In Asia Pacific, this contemporary upper-upscale brand is now present in Australia, Bangladesh, China, Fiji, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and the Maldives.


Maldives re-opens for tourists on 15th July

A scheduled passenger flight landed at the Velana International Airport, Male Wednesday, 15th July morning, marking the reopening of the country’s borders for visitors after a closure of more than 3 months. On March 27, the Maldives closed its borders as part of a series of unprecedented measures to contain the coronavirus outbreak. Since then, flight movement has been restricted to only cargo freighters and repatriation flights.

The Qatar Airways A350 aircraft landed at the Velana International Airport at 8.33am Wednesday with 131 passengers — mostly foreigners employed in the Maldives and Maldivians stranded abroad due to travel restrictions imposed by countries around the world.

Transport minister Aishath Nahula, acting tourism minister Fayyaz Ismail, acting managing director of airport operator Moosa Solih and other industry stakeholders welcomed the passengers.

A SriLankan Airlines flight arriving in the afternoon will be the other passenger service on Wednesday.

Ahead of the reopening, ‘new normal’ measures were introduced at the Velana International Airport.

Blue markers, spaced three feet apart, are in place in front of ticketing and check-in counters, and at the pre-flight inspection zone in the international terminal, as well as in front of the check-in counters in the domestic terminal.

Glass separators have also been installed in between all check-in counters.

The social distancing measures are complemented by added hygiene and safety measures, including daily disinfection of all seats, desks, lounge areas, ticketing and check-in counters, and flooring and airport tarmac area.

Meanwhile, airlines operating flights to the Maldives were told to ensure passengers wear face masks on-board at all times.

Exceptions can be made for passengers below six years of age and those who have a medical reason for not covering their face. Masks can be removed for eating and drinking, taking oral medication, or on the directions of a crew member.

Crew members must advise passengers to replace their mask when it becomes wet or soiled.

All passengers should complete an online health declaration form before arrival and departure.

Before departure, all passengers will have to fulfil the health requirements of their onward destination. This includes coronavirus tests, if required.

According to guidelines released by the Maldives tourism ministry, resorts and hotels on uninhabited islands as well as liveaboard vessels can begin hosting tourists right away (Please see a rolling list of resort reopenings here).

Guesthouses and hotels located on inhabited islands will be allowed to reopen on August 1. Passengers on cruise ships and yachts will be barred from disembarking at inhabited islands until then.

Thirty-day free on-arrival visa will be issued to all tourists with a confirmed booking for a stay at any registered tourist facility in the country. The entire holiday has to be booked at a single facility except for transit arrangements.There will be no mandatory quarantine or testing on arrival. Tourists will only have to complete a health declaration form.

But visitors with symptoms of the Covid-19 respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus or those travelling with someone who has similar symptoms will be tested at their expense.


Ten international airlines confirm flights to Maldives upon reopening

Maldives Airports Company (MACL) has revealed that 10 international passenger flights have already confirmed slots to land in Maldives at Velana International Airport upon reopening. MACL officials revealed that this includes flights from Sri Lankan Airlines, Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways, Emirates Airlines, Hong Kong, IndiGo,  Singapore Airlines, Silk Air and Turkish Airlines.

The requests from the carriers are as follows:

From July 1st

SriLankan Airlines – 3 daily flights

Qatar Airways – 1 daily flight starting

From July 15th 

Emirates Airlines – 1 daily flight

Etihad Airways – 2 weekly flights

Hong Kong Airlines – 2 weekly flights

IndiGo – 2 daily flights

Singapore Airlines – 1 daily flight

Silk Air – 2 daily flights

Turkish Airlines – 2 daily flights, 5 days a week

With the “new normal” measures in place, procedures at the airport will be prolonged and passengers will only be allowed to enter airport after thermal scans.

Passengers are required to be the airport around four hours before their flight, MACL announced.

“Health Prorection Agency guidelines require filling out an online form and to obtain an IR code before moving on to arrival and departure,” an official of MACL said. “Due to such additional measures, we request passengers to arrive at the airport four hours before their flight”, it said.

While Velana International Airport is all geared up for the “new normal,” the officials revealed that Maldives may welcome fewer than the anticipated number of flights when the country reopens the borders on July. “We expect flight movements to be three times lower than during peak season,” they added.

MACL said that that the VIA’s international arrivals terminal previously catered to 1,000 passengers. However with the safety measures in place, this will be cut down to 570. Moreover, the capacity of the international departures terminal will also be reduced from 1,200 to 750 passengers.


Atmosphere Hotels to relaunch Vittaveli as uber-luxe OZEN Reserve Vittaveli

Atmosphere Hotels & Resorts has announced the launch of OZEN Reserve Vittaveli, establishing its uber-luxe brand – The OZEN Collection, by the addition of Vittaveli resort of South Male Atoll to their portfoio, which was previously managed by Dubai-based Jumeirah Hotels.

Set to open in October, the OZEN Reserve Vittaveli will epitomise relaxed, ultra-luxe island living with grand spaces, access to sun-kissed ocean fronts and gourmet dine-by-design experiences. Each of the 89 villas and suites will offer guests absolute seclusion, with a private swimming pool and direct beach or lagoon access.

The jewel in the crown, “Royal Reserve”, will offer 3,500 square metres of unmatched luxury and elegant living for a blissfully immersive stay. To complete the exotic holiday experience, guests can set off for private adventures on the resort’s 85-foot MY Vittaveli yacht.

The OZEN Collection by Atmosphere is an award-winning lifestyle luxury hotel brand, owned by Atmosphere Hotels & Resorts. Inspired by the ‘Joy of Giving’ core philosophy, OZEN resorts offer guests luxury and pure indulgence in pristine, Indian Ocean locations.

OZEN Maadhoo, the first resort under this brand, opened in July 2016. 

Atmosphere Hotels & Resorts’ first property, Atmosphere Kanifushi, opened its doors in December 2013. The group opened its second property, OBLU by Atmosphere at Helengeli, in November 2015; followed by their flagship ‘Lifestyle Luxury’ sub-brand, OZEN by Atmosphere, in July 2016; OBLU Select at Sangeli in July 2018; and VARU by Atmosphere in October 2019. OZEN Tangalle takes the brand to the south coast of Sri Lanka and is scheduled to be launched in 2022.


Borders could most likely be reopened in July - Maldives Government

Tourism industry of Maldives is presently at a complete standstill due to the global pandemic of COVID-19 virus. Most resorts in the country are closed while the country has stopped issuing on-arrival visas to tourists in late March 2020.

Speaking in a presser today, Maldives Finance Minister Ibrahim Ameer stated that the government has come up with 5 scenarios based on surveys as to when the tourism industry will be reopened.

The Minister stated that it was likely that the virus could be controlled in the months between June and October.

“From July onwards, we can begin easing some of the measures, even if that doesn’t mean we reopen our airports” said Minister Ameer.

Details of the 5 scenarios presented by the Minister:

Scenario 1 was where the country will be re-opened in May 2020 and attract 962,398 tourist arrivals for 2020. This was the most beneficial scenario that could occur.

Scenario 2 is where the country will be re-opened in June 2020 and attracts a total tourist arrival of 883,288 for 2020. 

Scenario 3 was considered the most likely scenario, and in it the government will be able to issue on-arrival visas from July 2020 onwards and to reach a tourist arrival of 845,546 for the year 2020. This still meant that the country would see a 50 percent reduction of arrivals compared with previous years. 

If Scenario 4 occurs, the country is to only re-open in October 2020 and receive just 626,082 tourists for 2020, which is a reduction of 63 percent.

Scenario 5 is the most detrimental and in this the country is to be reopened in January 2021. This means that the country would not see any more tourist arrivals in 2020 except for the 382,678 tourists it welcomed before the COVID-19 situation. This is a disheartening scenario, due to the fact that the Maldivian tourism industry was on the rise before being hit by the global pandemic.


Atmosphere Kanifushi Maldives unveils new over water villas

Atmosphere Kanifushi Maldives has unveiled 40 brand new overwater villas.

With the new villas that were completed in December 2019, there are now two overwater villa options available to guests; 12 facing the main island for the best sunrise views, and 28 sunset view villas with private pool.

Villas are equipped with all mod-cons and direct access to the water means guests can take a dip into the lagoon from their own private wooden sundeck. Twenty-four-hour butler service ensures guests’ needs are always met – from making restaurant reservations, to arranging snorkelling excursions and booking spa treatments.

A new overwater restaurant, “Pier Six,” has also been built on the new overwater cluster, offering guests a range of cuisines, including an array of seafood and Japanese Teppanyaki grill options.

Located in the Lhaviyani atoll, five-star Atmosphere Kanifushi is 2km long and surrounded by a turquoise lagoon, reached by a 30-minute seaplane transfer from Velana International Airport.

Atmosphere Hotels & Resorts’ first property, Atmosphere Kanifushi, opened its doors in December 2013. The group opened its second property, OBLU by Atmosphere at Helengeli, in November 2015; followed by their flagship lifestyle luxury sub-brand, OZEN by Atmosphere, in July 2016; and then OBLU Select at Sangeli, which opened in July 2018. The newest addition to the portfolio, VARU by Atmosphere, opened in October 2019.


Kurumba Maldives wins Leading Meeting & Conference Resort Award

Kurumba Maldives was voted as the Leading Meeting & Conference Resort in the Maldives at the Maldives Travel Awards 2019.

The awards ceremony was organised by the Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators, MATATO, regarded as the premier awards ceremony of the travel industry of Maldives.

With their convenient location, within 10 minutes of Velana International Airport and the capital of Malé, Kurumba is an ideal destination for meetings, incentives, conferences and events. As the first private resort island in the Maldives, Kurumba has had the privilege to organize numerous events over the years since its opening in 1972, ranging from formal state dinners and visiting dignitaries, to regional corporate workshops and international MICE events. The Bougainvillea Hall is Kurumba’s main convention hall. Its high ceilings give the well-appointed room an open feel, without pillars obscuring attendees’ views. This meeting space caters for up to 200 guests in a variety of layouts, and in addition, an adjacent VIP lounge is connected to the main conference hall and can be divided into two spaces. Suitable for up to 60 guests, this space is perfect for breakouts, a rest area for speakers or for smaller meetings.


Maldives wins 16 titles at The World Luxury Spa and Restaurant Awards 2019

Sixteen winners of Maldives were announced at The World Luxury Spa and Restaurant Awards 2019. The highly competitive 2019 World Luxury Spa and Restaurant Awards, recognising establishments for world-class service excellence, took place on at The State Hermitage Museum Official Hotel in St. Petersburg, Russia on Saturday 6 July 2019.

This was the fourth event of its representing more than 90 countries, 450 spas and 270 restaurants.

The following were the titles won by Maldivian Spas.

 

Aqua Spa At Floating Resort By Scubaspa Maldives

Luxury Cruise Ship Spa

Global

Javvu Spa At Amilla Fushi

Luxury Jungle Resort Spa

Global

Sun Aqua Spa At Sun Aqua Iru Veli Maldives

Best Unique Experience Spa

Continent

Spa By Thalgo At The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi

Luxury Beach Resort Spa

Continent

The Spa At Grand Park Kodhipparu Maldives

Luxury Destination Spa

Continent

The Spa At Grand Park Kodhipparu Maldives

Luxury Eco Spa

Continent

The Vidhun Spa At Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa

Luxury Island Resort Spa

Continent

Willow Stream Spa At Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi

Luxury Resort Spa

Continent

Spa Cenvaree At Centara Ras Fushi Resort

Luxury Romantic Destination Spa

Continent

Serena Spa

Luxury Spa Group

Continent

Coco Spa - Coco Bodu Hithi

Luxury Beach Resort Spa

Country

Calm Spa & Salon At JA Manafaru

Luxury Destination Spa

Country

Drift Spa By Niyama

Luxury Island Resort Spa

Country

Coconut Spa At Reethi Faru Resort

Luxury Resort Spa

Country

Sun Aqua Spa Vilu Reef

Luxury Romantic Destination Spa

Country

Sulha Spa At Kudadoo Private Island

Luxury Wellness Spa

Country


The Residence by Cenizaro opens its second resort in Maldives

The Residence Maldives at Dhigurah was launched early this month as the second property of Cenizaro Hotels & Resorts, the hospitality arm of Bonvests Holdings Singapore.

The Residence Maldives at Dhigurah is set on the one of the country’s most beautiful atolls – Gaafu Alifu Atoll, and adjacent to The Residence by Cenizaro’s first property, The Residence Maldives at Falhumaafushi. 

The two resorts are connected by a bridge enabling guests to travel between the two and forming one of the largest resort complexes in the Maldives. The Gaafu Alifu Atoll is found in the south of the Maldives and can be accessed by both seaplane and domestic flights.

All of Dhigurah’s 173 spacious beach and water villas overlook the dappled turquoise waters of the ocean and each one has its own private pool. Rooms are designed with plenty of natural light and crafted using the finest local materials, blending the beauty of traditional Maldivian architecture with contemporary flair. Aimed at families, Dhigurah introduces 12 new two-bedroom beach and water pool villas, with more on-land options, perfect for younger children.

The opening of The Residence Maldives at Dhigurah will take The Residence by Cenizaro’s hotel portfolio to six – Mauritius, Tunis, Zanzibar, Bintan and the Maldives. Further expansion is planned over the next two years with three hotels in Tunisia – Douz, The Medina of Tunis and Djerba Island.


Hotel Riu Atoll and Hotel Riu Palace Maldivas opens

The Spanish hotel chain Riu Hotels & Resorts launched its brand in Maldives with the opening of its twin island resorts - Hotel Riu Atoll and Hotel Riu Palace Maldivas.

Maldives Tourism minister Ali Waheed inaugurated the resorts at a ceremony that took place at the resorts on Friday, 17th May.

The two 24-hour all-inclusive hotels are located in Dhaalu atoll, a 40-minute flight from the main Velana International Airport followed by a 10-minute speedboat ride.

The four-star Hotel Riu Atoll offers 264 villas, 36 of which are suites over the Indian Ocean. The rooms are equipped with comforts such as a minibar, air conditioning, safe box and satellite TV. Hotel Riu Atoll provides guests with a pool with swim-up bar and impressive views of the sea, and another pool for children. Guests can also head to the beach and relax in the sun lounger area or go diving to contemplate the underwater beauty of the island paradise.

Connected to Hotel Riu Atoll by a walkway surrounded by a lagoon, the five-star Hotel Riu Palace Maldivas offers 176 villas, 72 of which are overwater suites. The rooms — some of which has Junior Suites — are equipped with minibars, drinks dispensers, kettles, air conditioning and satellite tv, amongst many other facilities.


AccorHotels announces the opening of Raffles Maldives Meradhoo Resort

The French multinational hotel group AccorHotels on a major expansion drive with 3 current properties - Mercure Maldives Kooddoo Resort, Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi and Mӧvenpick Resort Kuredhivaru Maldives and one other property under development, launched its Raffles brand in Maldives with the opening of the Raffles Maldives Meradhoo Resort.

Its main island opened on 9th May, that features Beach Villas and Beach Residences that offer private pools, generous living spaces and lavish marble bathroom with a sunken bathtub and outdoor shower. The Raffles Royal Residence and a secluded collection of Overwater Villas and Residences, which lies adjacent to one of the vibrant house reefs in the Maldives, is set to launch during the last quarter of 2019.

Located at the southern Maldives on the Gaafu Alifu Atoll, the resort is accessible by a 55-minute domestic flight from Velana International Airport followed by 15-minute speedboat ride from the Kaadedhdhoo Airport.

AccorHotels took over the management of the former resort on the island of Meradhoo from Dubai based hospitality group Jumeirah in 2017, with plans to reposition the luxury resort under its Raffles Hotels & Resorts brand.

Once completed, Raffles Maldives Meradhoo will boast 21 island villas and 16 ocean villas with private pools, 3 restaurants, a scenic cocktail bar and an array of facilities and activities to relax, rejuvenate and reinvigorate the body, mind and spirit.

These facilities include an award winning luxury spa, overwater fitness centre, yoga programmes, water sports, private dining options, 24-hour butler and private chef service, along with snorkelling and diving at its finest. The resort’s PADI-certified dive centre offers adventures through the wonders of some of most breath-taking coral reefs in the world.


Maldives' first exclusive wellness resort to be launched

Leading hospitality group Crown & Champa Resorts is set to launch Kagi Maldives Spa Island, the first wellness island resort in Maldives.

The resort is being developed on the uninhabited island of Kagi in North Male Atoll. The 2.5-hectare island, located about 55 kilometres from the main Velana International Airport, was leased for USD 2.1 million through closed bidding in 2017.

Kagi Maldives is described as a 50-room resort, with 40 Water Pool Villas and 10 Beach Pool Villas.

The New York-based architectural firm Yuji Yamazaki Architecture PLLC — the designers of several leading luxury resorts in the Maldives including Kudadoo Maldives Private Island and world’s first undersea residence The Muraka at Conrad Maldives Rangali Island — has been commissioned to design Kagi Maldives.

The most striking feature of Kagi Maldives — its spa and wellness centre. The overwater spa and wellness centre consisting of seven single treatment rooms and six double treatment rooms as well as two thermal rooms will circle an open-air yoga pavilion. Complementing the overwater spa and wellness centre will be a meditation platform rising through the woods.

The construction of the resort is underway, however the opening date is yet to be announced.

In addition to Kagi, Crown & Champa Resorts diverse collection of resorts include Hurawalhi Maldives, Kudadoo Maldives Private Island by Hurawalhi, Innahura Maldives Resort, Komandoo Maldives, Veligandu Island Resort & Spa, Kuredu Resort Maldives, Vilamendhoo Island Resort & Spa, Meeru Island Resort & Spa, and one city hotel, Champa Central Hotel. Each resort offers guests an unforgettable experience and memorable moments, with beautiful sandy beaches, turquoise waters, beach dining options, water activates, dive centres and snorkelling in one of the most picturesque destinations in the world.


Innahura Maldives Resort of the Crown & Champa Resorts Group opens

Innahura Maldives Resort, the latest addition to the portfolio of the leading resort operator Crown & Champa Resorts has opened. Located in the northern Lhaviyani atoll, Innahura island introduces a more affordable Maldives resort to the market.

This newly built three-star island resort boasts 78 Beach Bungalows complemented by an overwater bar, main bar and a wholesome buffet style beachfront restaurant. Innahura’s approach is a cost-effective option for travellers to the Maldives who want a laid-back holiday.

A fun and easy atmosphere with a touch of local Maldivian flavours and minimal fuss encapsulates Innahura’s approach to getaways and the resorts purposefully crafted all-inclusive approach, AI Easy.

The AI Easy programme is an affordable package which guests can enhance with additional purchases at any time with their favourite drinks, snacks, experiences and activities. “We wanted to open up the Maldives to a whole new market, in order to ensure Innahura is an affordable option we decided to give travellers the quintessential Maldives holiday alongside the power to choose what they want in their holiday AI package,” Martin Vossen, CEO of Crown & Champa Resorts, was quoted in a previous statement saying.

This expansion increases the collection of resorts operated by Crown & Champa Resorts — a leader in the Maldivian hospitality industry with over 40 years of experience to nine. The Crown & Champa Resorts diverse collection of resorts are Hurawalhi Maldives, Kudadoo Maldives Private Island by Hurawalhi, Innahura Maldives Resort, Mirihi Island Resort, Komandoo Maldives, Veligandu Island Resort & Spa, Kuredu Resort Maldives, Vilamendhoo Island Resort & Spa, Meeru Island Resort & Spa, and one city hotel, Champa Central Hotel.


Faarufushi Maldives, the newest addition to Universal Resorts Group opens

Faarufushi Maldives, the newest resort of the leading Maldivian resort operator Universal Resorts, was opened. The resort is set on the island of Faarufushi in the northern Raa Atoll, with just a scenic 50-minute journey by seaplane or off a domestic flight to Ifuru Domestic Airport from the main Velana International Airport.

Faarufushi, a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of World Alliance welcomes guests with 80 spacious villas that offer a striking realisation of contemporary design amidst a naturally stunning seascape. Ten Beach Bungalows and 27 Beach Retreats with Pool are cocooned around the island in addition to 39 sleek Ocean Retreats with Pool stilted over the azure lagoon of Faarufushi. Three Ocean Suites with Pool and the Island Residence with Pool offer the ultimate sanctuary with an expansive infinity pool overlooking at its very own stretch of the Indian Ocean.

Indulgent dining choices are offered in a modern and most unpretentious environment. 

Universal Resorts operates one of the largest resort collections in the country, including iconic properties Kurumba Maldives, Velassaru Maldives, Kuramathi Maldives, Baros Maldives, Kandolhu Maldives, Dhigali Maldives, Maafushivaru, and Milaidhoo Island Maldives.


Maldives to open 20 new resorts in 2019

Over the past few years, dozens of uninhabited islands have been leased to local and foreign resort developers. Several international brands have entered into the market, increasing the number of resorts in operation to more than 140.

11 new resorts came into operation in 2016, followed by 15 new resorts in 2017 and 20 new properties in the last year. Maldives will welcome 20 new resort openings in 2019.

Singapore’s Park Hotel Group has opened its first resort in the Maldives, whilst major international hotel chains such as AccorHotels have entered the Maldives with three openings, including Mercure Maldives Kooddoo Resort, Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi and Mӧvenpick Resort Kuredhivaru Maldives as well as two in the pipeline. Brands like Hard Rock International, Capella Hotel Group, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, Emaar Hospitality Group, Baglioni Hotels, Emerald Collection and Meliá Hotels International have announced their entry to the Maldives as well.

Existing international players are also upping their presence, with Marriott International launching Westin and JW Marriott in Maldives, Hilton Worldwide to re-introduce its top-end luxury brand Waldorf Astoria, Aitken Spence to introduce its Heritance brand, Minor Hotel Group to introduce its AVANI brand, Onyx Hospitality Group to introduce its OZO brand with its second property in the island nation, and LUX* Hotels and Resorts opening its second resort in the Maldives. Centara Hotels and Resorts has also signed a management agreement for its third resort in the tropical destination, while The Residence by Cenizaro has announced the launch of its second Maldivian property.

Leading local hotel groups, including Atmosphere Hotels and Resorts, Sun Siyam Resorts, and Crown and Champa Resorts, are also on an expansion drive.

Meanwhile, the first integrated tourism developments in the Maldives — Emboodhoo Lagoon project and Rah Falhu Huraa lagoon project are underway.


Qatar Airways increases frequency to Maldives to a thrice daily service

Qatar Airways announced that it has added an additional daily flight to the Maldives, providing its passengers with even more flexibility and choice for getaway to the tropical island paradise.

The new service to Malé Velana International Airport, which is set to launch on 28 October 2018, is part of the award-winning airline’s continued expansion in Asia.

Qatar Airways currently operates 14 flights per week from Doha to the Maldives. The additional service will be operated by both the A330-300 and A320-200 aircraft and will take the number of weekly flights to 21.

In October 2017, the airline upgraded its double-daily A330 service to the Maldives with an A350 aircraft, featuring a total of 283 seats, with 36 Business class seats and 247 in Economy Class.

“We are delighted to announce the addition of a third daily flight between Doha and the Maldives, one of our most popular holiday destinations. We believe that a luxurious travel experience isn’t just about the destination, but about the whole journey itself,” said His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, the Group Chief Executive of Qatar Airways.

"The additional daily frequency between Doha and the Maldives showcases our commitment to expanding our global route network, in order to offer our passengers enhanced choice and flexibility when planning a holiday getaway. We are pleased that we can continue in our efforts to provide our passengers with even more opportunity to experience this captivating destination.”

Qatar Airways was named ‘World’s Best Business Class’ by the 2018 World Airline Awards, managed by international air transport rating organisation Skytrax. It was also named ‘Best Business Class Seat’, ‘Best Airline in the Middle East’, and ‘World’s Best First Class Airline Lounge’.


The Residence Maldives at Dhigurah announces January 2019 opening

Cenizaro Hotels & Resorts’ second property in the Maldives, is set to open its shores in January 2019 with 173 spacious beach and water villas.  Set on Gaafu Alifu Atoll, the property is adjacent to Cenizaro’s first property, the Residence Maldives at Falhumaafushi.

The two resorts will be connected by a bridge – enabling guests to travel between the two with ease – and forming one of the largest resort offerings in the Maldives. 

Aimed at families, Dhigurah introduces 12 new two-bedroom beach and water pool villas, with more on-land options, perfect for younger children. Dining options include all-day dining at the Dining Room, the resort’s beachfront restaurant and Li Bai, the resort’s signature Cantonese restaurant, sister to the celebrated Li Bai in Singapore, serving exquisite classic Chinese dishes.

“With the Residence Maldives at Dhigurah we are creating a new offering for our guests,” said Gary Xie, director for Cenizaro Hotels & Resorts, commenting earlier on the new property. “The hotel will – as always – be an authentic expression of the Residence philosophy; with its own story to tell and a combination of both Maldivian and global influences to give it a unique sense of place.


Maldives welcomes one millionth visitor of 2018

Maldives welcomed the one millionth visitor of 2018 on Sunday, 9th September. At a media event held at Velana International Airport on Sunday morning, officials from the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation and the Tourism Ministry welcomed Koralp Guner, as the one millionth visitor of the year, who arrived on Turkish Airlines Flight TK730 with his wife for their honeymoon.

Guner, who is an American national, and his Turkish wife were also awarded with a complimentary 5 night holiday package sponsored by Mövenpick Resort Kuredhivaru Maldives along with complimentary transfers by Trans Maldivian Airways.

Total arrivals to the Maldives last year stood at 1.3 million. The government has announced an ambitious target of a record 1.5 million tourist arrivals this year.


Maldives Travel Awards 2018 Guesthouse Edition winners recognized

Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO) hosted Maldives Travel Awards Guesthouse Edition 2018 on Friday, 7th Sep.

Awards were presented in 11 categories, for which 111 parties were nominated. The winners include:

  • Leading Guesthouse: Reveries Diving Village, L. Gan
  • Leading Food and Beverage Guesthouse: Velana Beach, K. Maafushi
  • Leading Guesthouse / Diving and Water Sports: Fulidhoo Dive and Water Sports, V. Fulidhoo
  • Leading Eco-Friendly Guesthouse: Nolhi Escape, HDh. Nolhivaranfaru
  • Leading Business Guesthouse: UI Inn, Hulhumale
  • Leading Heritage Guesthouse: Detour Beach View, ADh. Hangnaameedhoo
  • Leading Adventure Guesthouse: Shallow Lagoon Rasdhoo, AA. Rasdhoo
  • Leading Transport Service Provider: Nevi Transfer Service
  • Leading Guesthouse Brand: Kaani Beach Hotel
  • Leading Guesthouse Island: AA. Ukulhas
  • Leading Beach Island: AA. Ukulhas

Additionally, MATATO awarded recognitions in three categories, including:

  • Leading Business Development Partner for the Guesthouse Industry: Allied Insurance
  • Newcomer of the Year: Villa Rosa Maldives, AA. Feridhoo
  • Most Supportive Guesthouse: Crystal Sand, K. Maafushi

Winners for the Guesthouse Edition were selected from a combination of popular vote (60 percent) and traveller ratings (40 percent), which was based on data provided by world’s largest travel website Tripadvisor.

Introduced last year, the Guesthouse Edition builds on the recognitions awarded to guesthouses by MATATO as part of the Maldives Travel Awards, and celebrates the outstanding performance of the guesthouse sector.


Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort gears up for opening in Oct 2018

Marriott International has announced the forthcoming debut of Westin Hotels and Resorts in the Maldives with the opening of The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort in October 2018.

Developed by Belluna Co. Ltd of Japan and Asia Capital PLC of Sri Lanka, The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort is set to herald the Westin brand’s wellness positioning in the Maldivian oasis.

Nestled on a beautiful coral island in the Maldives only UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of Baa atoll, The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort will feature 70 villas and suites, 41 on island and 29 overwaters. Poised over the sea on stilts and with an area of almost 200 square metres each, the overwater suites are amongst the largest a resort has to offer in the Baa atoll region.

Westin, a brand acquired by Marriott through its merger with Starwood Hotels and Resorts, runs hotels and resorts that are designed to enhance guests’ well-being through revitalising amenities and innovative programmes that help them be at their best while on the road.

Marriott runs several resorts in the Maldives, including The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort, Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort and Spa and W Maldives.


Bridge connecting capital Male and the main International Airport opens

The China-Maldives Friendship Bridge, the first cross-sea bridge in the Maldives, was opened on 30th August evening. Connecting capital Male and neighboring Hulhule island where the Maldives' main international airport is located, the bridge makes it possible for locals and tourists to transfer between the two islands on land within five minutes.

The over water bridge will stretch out to 1.39 kilometers in length and 20 meters in width.

The construction of the bridge started at the end of 2015.


SilkAir to increase frequency to Maldives by 4 additional flights

SilkAir, the regional wing of Singapore Airlines, announces that it will be operating 4 additional weekly flights to Maldives starting March 27. With the additional flights, Singapore Airlines and SilkAir will fly a combined total of 18 weekly flights to the Maldives.

SilkAir launched its inaugural flight to the Maldives in October 2015, starting with a four-times weekly frequency, before increasing to daily flights from October 2016. With the upcoming additional flights in March, SilkAir will be operating 11 times weekly to the Maldives, reinforcing its strong confidence in inbound travel to Maldives.

SilkAir’s Chief Executive, Mr Foo Chai Woo, said “The Maldives is a popular travel destination offering great beauty both above and below the water, with its stunning white sand beaches and the equally beautiful underwater world. We are glad to be able to join the Singapore Airlines Group network to bring travellers from around the world to this picturesque island destination. We are confident that passenger traffic to the Maldives will continue to grow steadily with the additional flights.”

As the regional wing of Singapore Airlines, SilkAir operates the Singapore Airlines Group’s narrowbody fleet and extends the Group network by seeding and developing new, exciting destinations in the Asia Pacific. The airline took to the skies in February 1989 as Tradewinds the Airline, before evolving into SilkAir in 1992.

In its early days, the airline catered to passengers holidaying in exotic destinations in the region, including Phuket and Tioman. As the carrier developed, regional business destinations such as Phnom Penh, Yangon and Kuala Lumpur were added.

Today, the full-service airline operates about 400 weekly flights to 52 destinations in 16 countries. Recent additions to the network include Colombo, Sri Lanka (Apr 2017) and Hiroshima, Japan (Oct 2017). The airline currently has a fleet of 33 aircraft, comprising 3 Airbus A319s, 10 Airbus 320s, 17 Boeing 737-800s and 3 Boeing 737 MAX 8.


Qatar Airways to increase Maldives frequency to 3 daily flights

Qatar Airways has announced plans to increase its frequency to the Maldives to triple daily flights for 2018-2019. The announcement was made by Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker, at ITB Berlin, the world’s largest travel trade show on Wednesday, 7th MArch.

“Qatar Airways is tremendously excited to announce further expansion with a significant number of new destinations to be added to our extensive global network throughout 2018 and 2019. This is a direct reflection of our commitment to connecting travellers across all corners of the world in a way that is meaningful and convenient to them. We are committed to continuing our ambitious growth strategy, in order to be able to provide our passengers with as much choice as possible and to take them anywhere in the world they wish to go,” Al Baker told some 200 members of the international media in attendance.

In addition, services to Warsaw, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Prague and Kyiv will increase to a double daily frequency, while services to Madrid, Barcelona and the Maldives will increase to triple daily.

Qatar Airways currently operates twice daily direct flights to and from the Maldives.

It has recently deployed the brand new A350 jet on its Doha-Male route, making it the first airline to deploy an A350 jet to a South Asian country. The airline will use a 280 seater A350 jet to fly between Qatar and Maldives until the end of March.

Qatar Airways is popular amongst travellers from Europe who often transit in Doha before flying to the Maldives.


Sirru Fen Fushi begins welcoming guests, set to re-brand under Fairmont in April

Sirru Fen Fushi, a brand new luxury resort in the Maldives, has welcomed the first group of guests, with plans to reposition it under AccorHotels’ Fairmont brand in April.

Developed on the island of Gaakoshibee in the northern Shaviyani atoll and accessible by a 55-minute seaplane flight from the main Velana International Airport, Sirru Fen Fushi welcomed the first group of guests on Thursday.

Offering 120 luxury villas on one of the largest resort lagoons in the Maldives, the stunning new property features the Maldives’ first underwater sculpture museum, created by British artist Jason deCaires Taylor. One of the world’s most celebrated ‘underwater naturalists’, Taylor’s work has been recognised by National Geographic as one of the top 25 Wonders of the World.

This all-villas resort is ideal for both couples and families – and includes luxury tented villa accommodation in a verdant, star-lit grove.

After two months of soft launching, Sirru Fen Fushi will be rebranded in April as Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi.


Maldives honoured with multiple HolidayCheck Awards in 2018

Four Maldivian resorts won The HolidayCheck Gold Award 2018. The winners are Kuramathi Island Resort, Kuredu Island Resort & Spa, Meeru Island Resort & Spa and Reethi Beach Resort.

Eight other resorts also won the HolidayCheck Award this year. The winners include Holiday Island Resort, Embudu Village, Fihaalhohi Island Resort, OBLU by Atmosphere at Helengeli, Robinson Club Maldives, Summer Island Maldives, Vilamendhoo Island Resort & Spa and Veligandu Island Resort & Spa.

The HolidayCheck Award is an annual hotel award that selects the most popular hotels in a specific region. The HolidayCheck Award 2018 was based on more than 900,000 guest reviews. The selection is based purely on the published ratings. The reviews considered for the award were the ones published on HolidayCheck between December 1, 2016, and November 30, 2017.

The popularity ranking, an algorithm that compares the number of ratings, the overall rating and the recommendation rate, determines that the hotels that meet the minimum criteria are the 10 most popular hotels in each region.

HolidayCheck is a renowned German travel review website that is available in 13 different languages and is one of the strongest neutral quality web pages in the world, particularly used by German-speaking travellers. To see the full list of winners please visit holidaycheck.de/holidaycheck-award.


Hong Kong Airlines to start flights to Maldives

Hong Kong Airlines recently announced that it would begin operating a three-time weekly service to the Maldives starting January 16, 2018.

Tourist arrivals from the Asia Pacific region are expected to grow next year, with the commencement of direct flights by Hong Kong Airlines.

“The Maldives represents the perfect getaway for a growing number of travellers, having enjoyed a 5.9% year-on-year growth during the first eight months of 2017,” says Wayne Wang, Assistant Director of Commercial at Hong Kong Airlines, referring to statistics by the Maldives’ tourism ministry. “Hong Kong Airlines is looking to meet this demand, as we strive to provide customers from Hong Kong and beyond with more choices than before.”

According to Hong Kong Airlines, the flights are scheduled for every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday; from Hong Kong to Velana International Airport, Malé. The flight time between Hong Kong and Malé is approximately six hours.

A total of 511,081 travellers from the Asia Pacific region visited the Maldives so far this year, accounting for 45.5% of total arrivals, according to data from the tourism ministry. 265,417 Chinese tourists visited the Maldives from January to October, while the number was recorded at 28,689 in October alone. Chinese tourists account for 23.6% of the total 1.12 million tourists arrivals so far this year.

Hong Kong Airlines was established in 2006 and covers nearly 40 destinations across the Asia Pacific and North America. It has also been awarded the internationally acclaimed four-star rating from Skytrax since 2011. It was also the winner for Asia’s Leading Inflight Service at the World Travel Awards 2015. For more details, please visit hongkongairlines.com.


Air France begins direct flights to Maldives

Air France on Thursday, 2nd November began operating direct flights to the Maldives. The maiden flight of Air France landed at the Maldives main Velana International Airport on 2nd November morning to a water salute. 

Air France will offer two weekly flights to the Maldives on departure from Paris-Charles de Gaulle. The airline will use a Boeing 777-200 jet equipped with the latest Air France travel cabins, and with a capacity of 312 seats, including 28 in Business, 24 in Premium Economy and 260 in Economy. Flights operate on Wednesdays and Saturdays on departure from Paris and on Thursdays and Sundays on departure from Male.

The scheduled direct service by Air France is expected to give a much needed boost to tourist arrivals from France as well as from the whole of Europe.

Despite France being an important source market for the Maldives tourism industry, numbers have become stagnant over the past months. According to the latest figures, arrivals from France observed an year-on-year increase of just 3.9 percent in the first eight months of the year.

The flagship carrier of France is the latest European airline to begin direct flight operations to the Maldives. Italy’s flagship carrier Alitalia on Wednesday began its first ever scheduled direct operations to the Maldives. Air France and Alitalia are amongst the few airlines operating direct flights between Europe and the Maldives. Majority of travellers from Europe are now required to take transit routes on airlines such as Emirates and SriLankan Airlines.

Scheduled direct operations by the flagship carriers of France and Italy come amidst announcements by several international airlines to increase flight frequency to the island nation ahead of the upcoming peak tourist season.


Baros Maldives named 'Resort Hotel of the Year' by Small Luxury Hotels

Baros Maldives has been acclaimed as the Resort Hotel of the Year 2017 by Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH) at the brand’s International Conference in California. Small Luxury Hotels of the World is a collection of over 500 hotels in more than 80 countries around the world that offer the best locations, highest quality, personalised service and a truly authentic way to discover a destination.

These prestigious annual awards are presented as the result of voting by discerning guests who are members of SLH’s loyalty programme and by luxury travel agents.

Baros Maldives was also the runner-up in SLH’s Hotel of the Year Award as well as in four other categories: Best Gourmet Experience, Most Sensational Spa, Most A-List Suite Experience and the Mystery Inspectors’ Excellence Award. No other hotel or resort received the highest number of top-level rankings as Baros Maldives, according to a statement by the resort.

“As curators of the very best small, luxury hotel experiences around the world, we are delighted to recognise these exceptional hotels that showcase our independently minded ethos in such a variety of creative, classy and culturally-relevant ways,” says Filip Boyen, CEO of Small Luxury Hotels of the World.


Tourists from India to Maldives on the increase in this year

Statistics by the Ministry of Tourism has showed that 42,900 tourists visited the Maldives from India in the first seven months of 2017, which is a 23% increase compared to the same period of last year.

In July, over 5,300 tourists visited Maldives from India, which is a 13% increase compared to June 2017.

Maldives is fast becoming a favored destination amongst Indian travellers with Indian booking websites citing surveys that notes Maldives amongst top five destinations most preferred by Indians. Indian tourists attributes to over 7% of total arrivals to Maldives, according to statistics.

India is one of the main source markets to the Maldivian tourism industry with notable growth in arrival of Indian tourists to Maldives in the past couple of years.


Eriyadu relaunched as Thomas Cook’s first Maldivian resort

The leading global holiday company Thomas Cook has launched its first resort in Maldives, Smartline Eriyadu. Eriyadu, a resort earlier run by the local company Platinum Capital Holdings (PCH), was relaunched under Thomas Cook’s Smartline brand.

Located in North Male Atoll and accessible by a 50 minute speedboat trip from the main Velana International Airport, Smartline Eriyadu has 76 rooms in 2 categories — Standard and Deluxe that reflect the typical Maldivian style and natural local materials like palm leaves and bamboo as well as the colours of this diving paradise.

For dining, Smartline Eriyadu has a main buffet restaurant, which serves local and varied dishes with the influence of Asian cuisine, the Blitz Café and Bar, which features a comprehensive à la carte menu and a fully stocked bar, and a beach bar. Guests can also enjoy tailor-made dining options such as dinner at sunset and in-villa dining.

With 21 of the most extraordinary dive spots in the world within reach, Smartline Eriyadu is the perfect place to explore the underwater world of the Maldives. The resort features a PADI-certified diving school and a water sports centre that offers a range of options, including banana boat, catamaran sailing, jet ski and wind surfing, as well as excursions such as big game fishing and sunset fishing. Recreational facilities at Smartline Eriyadu include a swimming pool, a wellness centre and table tennis.

The UK-based Thomas Cook already runs 65 Smartline hotels in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Cape Verde, Gambia, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Tunis and Turkey.

The 3 and 4 star Smartline hotels are located in popular holiday destinations, close to the beach and surrounding hotspots. 


Grand Park Kodhipparu Resort opens

Grand Park Kodhipparu, the first Maldivian property of the Singapore based Park Hotel Group has opened. Located in the North Male Atoll and a 15-minute speedboat ride away from the main Velana International Airport, Grand Park Kodhipparu features a collection of 120 idyllic beachfront pool villas, breathtaking overwater villas and palatial two-bedroom villas − 65 of the 120 villas come with their own private pools and the five two-bedroom villas feature extensive private terraces.

Designed by world-renowned hospitality design firm Hirsch Bedner Associates, the resort showcases sophisticated architecture, state-of-the-art interior and high ceiling of palm fringed roof. Contemporary exterior with Maldives’ traditional influence of wood and rattan, inventive rustic appeal and inviting peaceful atmosphere. Neutral tones, natural fundamentals and spacious social settings balances the unrivalled beauty of the cobalt sea and tranquility.

The resort offers three restaurants and a pool bar, including the overwater Edge restaurant which offers a wide selection of international culinary creations, Breeze poolside restaurant and bar which serves lunch and light bites throughout the day followed by inventive cocktails and fine wines in the night, and the Firedoor speciality restaurant which offers grilled meats and fish coupled with the finest wines.

To celebrate its opening, Grand Park Kodhipparu has also announced a limited-time opening offer of 50 percent off on beach and water villas.

Park Hotel Group owns and manages 15 properties in eight countries and 11 cities. Named Best Regional Hotel Chain in the TTG Travel Awards for five consecutive years (2012-2016), the group endeavors to create unique and memorable travel experiences, and to bring joy to its guests as it continues to grow its footprint across Asia Pacific.


New seaplane terminal developed at Malé International Airport

A new seaplane terminal is being developed at the Maldives main Velana International Airport, Malé. The new seaplane terminal, which is expected to cost USD 30 million is a part of a USD 800 million mega project to expand and upgrade the Maldives’ main gateway Velana International Airport. The seaplane terminal currently in operation is to be moved out in order to make space for a new runway and a new terminal.

The four-storey terminal will have state-of-the-art equipment and facilities, including lounges and restaurants.

The reclamation of land for the new terminal on the reclaimed lagoon on the eastern side of the airport island of Hulhule is already completed. The new terminal will sit on 18,000 square metres of reclaimed land and the accompanying seaplane hanger will be built on an additional 14,000 square metre reclaimed land.

Seaplane is the preferred mode of transport between the main Velana International Airport and resorts located in outer atolls.

Two companies handle seaplane operations - flagship carrier Maldivian and the privately run Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA).

TMA, which is controlled by US venture capital firm Blackstone, operates an all-amphibian fleet of 47 aircrafts making it the largest seaplane operator in the world. Maldivian has a fleet of 10 seaplanes and serves six resorts.

The seaplane operators are investing heavily on expanding their fleets and operations. The expansion comes in-line with growing tourist arrivals and increasing bed capacity due to the opening of dozens of new resorts in the Maldives.


Maldives to lease 3 more islands for resort development

Maldives has opened closed bidding for another three uninhabited islands for resort development. An announcement by the tourism ministry on Wednesday listed these islands:

  • Kagi: 2.5 hectare island in Kaafu atoll for USD 2.1 million
  • Bodukaashihura: 2.4 hectare island in Alif Dhaal atoll for USD 1.7 million
  • Lonubui: 2.1 hectare island in Alif Dhaal atoll for USD 1.5 million

Local laws allow tourism leases of up to 100 years.

Over the past three years, dozens of uninhabited islands have been leased to local and foreign resort developers. Several international brands have entered into the market, increasing the number of resorts to 120. That number is set to increase as the government has announced the opening of some 20 new resorts by the end of this year.

Along with the new resort openings come the challenge of increasing demand from budget travellers who choose guesthouses over luxury resorts that the Maldives is known for. The guesthouse sector has rapidly expanded with over 300 guesthouses in operation today.

The government has recently announced new steps to maintain a structured growth in tourism, including a slowdown in leasing islands for resort development and increased marketing efforts in key markets such as China and the Middle East in order to reach an ambitious target of a record 1.5 million tourist arrivals this year.


St. Regis Maldives wins the Best Exterior Design title at Prix Versailles Global Architecture Awards

The continental Special Prize for Exterior – Africa and West Asia in the Hotels category was presented at the grand finale of Prix Versailles held on May 12 at the UNESCO headquarters in French capital Paris.

St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort was amongst 70 continental winners. Properties from six major regions around the globe — Africa and West Asia, North America, Central America, the South and the Caribbean, Central Asia and the Northeast, South Asia and the Pacific, and Europe — competed for the continental titles.

Actively promoted by UNESCO and International Union of Architects, the Prix Versailles has become the World Architecture Award for stores, hotels and restaurants. It is an original initiative launched in 2015 to foster better interaction between the economy and culture.

The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort, which was included in the Condé Nast Traveler 2017 Hot List, is nestled on a private island in a secluded Maldivian atoll, amidst thriving marine life. Just 40 minutes from the main Velana International Airport by seaplane, guests are transported into a newfound paradise in the Dhaalu Atoll. The all-villa resort’s unique design, inspired by the marine setting, has been created to evoke a sense of tropical island village living. Each of the 77 villas embody the perfect combination between privacy and luxury.


Maldives wins the Best Sea Destination award at Italia Travel Awards

Maldives has won the award for the Best Sea Destination at the Italia Travel Awards 2017. Hala Hameed, the Permanent Representative of Maldives to the UN offices in Geneva and Ambassador of Maldives to Swiss Federal Council, received the award at the gala ceremony held Thursday at the elegant Roman Aquarium located in the heart of Italy’s capital Rome.

Maldives won the award for the Best Beach Destination last year, competing with Seychelles and Polynesia.

Considered to be the Oscars of the travel industry in Italy, the annual Italia Travel Awards celebrate the commitment and expertise shown by the Italian tourism sector. The awards aim to encourage and boost professionalism and quality of the tourism industry.

The Italian market, which is one of the major source markets for the Maldivian tourism Industry, has shown signs of recovery from 2015 onwards after four years of decline, with market share increasing from 4.8 percent in 2014 to 5.5 percent in 2016. In 2016, 71,202 tourist arrivals were recorded from Italy, which is an increase of 8.5 percent compared to 2015.


Maldives national airline to add new China routes to boost tourist arrivals

Maldives national airline Maldivian has announced plans to start operations to new destinations in China. Abdul Haris, Managing Director of the airline’s parent company Island Aviation Services Limited, told local media on Sunday that new cities in China would be added to its list of destinations later this year. The new destinations would be serviced by a new Airbus A321 aircraft.

“We are in the process of finalising the lease. Once we get the aircraft, we will also increase the number of flights to Bangkok and Trivandrum,” Haris was quoted as saying.

Maldivian currently flies to six cities in China; Changsha, Chengdu, Chongqing, Nanjing, Wuhan, Xian.

The new routes are expected to boost tourist arrivals from China, which has maintained its position as the single biggest source market. In 2016, Maldives welcomed 324,326 visitors from China. 


Maldives welcomes 750,000th tourist of Visit Maldives Year 2016

Maldives crosses another milestone in the tourist arrival target of Visit Maldives Year 2016 with the welcoming of 750,000th tourist. Mr Wang Shuai, a Chinese tourist was the distinguished 750,000th tourist to the Maldives who arrived with his family at 06.53 hrs this morning on a Maldivian flight from Xian, China.

Wang Shuai and his family were warmly welcomed by the Honorable Minister of Tourism, Mr. Moosa Zameer Hassan, H. E. Mr. Wang Fukang the Ambassador of China to Maldives together with senior officials from the tourism industry, Ministry of Tourism, Maldives Marketing and PR Corporation, Maldivian, Maldives Airports Company as well as the Maldives Immigration, at a ceremony held at the airport VIP lounge. Wang Shuai was presented with a commemorative plaque and a holiday in the Maldives sponsored by Meeru Island Resort & Spa.

During the interview given to the media today by Wang Shuai, he expressed his excitement towards being the 750,000th visitor to Maldives. On this second trip to Maldives, he shared that his first trip to Maldives was for his honeymoon. He is also thrilled to have received the opportunity to experience Meeru Island Resort & Spa with his family during his next trip.


Underwater dining experience launched at OZEN Maadhoo

OZEN by Atmosphere at Maadhoo has launched its underwater dining Experience at the resort’s underwater restaurant M6m. The M6m which means 'Minus 6 meters' is specialising in gourmet seafood dishes.

Led by the resort’s creative Executive Chef Arun Katoch and M6m’s own master chef Chaitanya Sharma, the restaurant serves some of the finest modern seafood cuisine in a mesmerizing underwater setting.

The dishes are created using quality ingredients and fine-dining cooking techniques. Star dishes include Seafood Ceviche, Baked Langoustine and Lobster Thermidor. The cuisine blurs the line between gastronomy and art, the resort promises.

The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner.

As well as the underwater restaurant the resort offers 3 dining options: THE PALMS, THE TRADITIONS – IndoCeylon, THE TRADITIONS – Peking, and Joie de VIVRE.

OZEN also introduced an exclusive All-inclusive luxury holiday plan, the Atmosphere INDULGENCE™ that offers a blissful hassle-free holiday experience.

OZEN by Atmosphere at Maadhoo welcomed their first guests on 15 July.

Located in Kaafu atoll, the luxury resort is 35 minutes away by speedboat from the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport.


Malahini Kuda Bandos Resort opens

Malahini Kuda Bandos Resort, the sister property of Bandos Maldives welcomed its first guests in late July 2016. Located in North Male’ atoll, the resort can be reached by a 10-minute speed boat ride from the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport.

The resort offers 82 rooms in two categories: Sunrise Beach Bungalows and Garden rooms.

Spread over the east side of the island, the beach bungalows offer a spectacular view of the sunrise. With direct access to the beach, the surrounding foliage offers privacy and creates a feeling of seclusion. These bungalows also boast open air showers.

The Garden Rooms overlook the gardens of the island and feature simple interior and minimalist furniture. These rooms come with either queen-sized or twin beds along with convertible sofa beds.

All rooms are air-conditioned with hot and cold showers, mini bar and free Wi-Fi. Tea and coffee making facilities are available.

The resort’s main restaurant Maagaa serves international cuisine, including breakfast, lunch and dinner. Located on the beach, The Bluu serves light meals, and is open late into the night.

For a change of scenery, guests also have the option to visit Bandos Resort next door to sample any of the four dining outlets available at the resort.

The resort’s bar is located on the beach, offering great views and everything from the classics to customised cocktails. 

Malahini Kuda Bandos also boasts a spa and gym.

Taking advantage of its proximity to great dive sites, the resort’s PADI-certified instructors will take guests on guided dives and snorkeling trips. Several watersports activities, such as catamaran sailing, Jet Ski, para sailing, canoeing, windsurfing and surfing are available at the resort’s marine and recreation centre.


Kandima Maldives to open in December

Hospitality and lifestyle brand, Pulse Hotels & Resorts has announced the opening of its new property, Kandima Maldives, in December 2016.

The contemporary lifestyle resort in Dhaalu atoll will cater for guests of all ages; couples, families and groups of friends.

Kandima offers 274 stylish studios and villas, with eleven room categories to choose from. The rooms are located at different points along the 3km long island, making the accommodation suitable for both honeymooners seeking privacy and families looking for activities. All the rooms come with a private terrace offering great views.

The two-storey villas named Beach and Sky Studio, are situated along the main beach and comes with their own private terrace or balcony. Guests can choose between a Sky or a Beach studio from 138 studios.

The Family Sky Studio offers 6 interconnecting sky studios with a separate living room, and can accommodate up to 8 people.

The island’s 30 spacious Beach Villas with Jacuzzi comes with their own private deck, Jacuzzi, and endless ocean views.

The Beach Pool Villas offer a private pool, Jacuzzi and private deck.

Kandima’s Aqua Villas are over-water with a private deck, offering endless views of the beautiful Indian Ocean. Guests can opt for an Aqua Villa with Jacuzzi or an Aqua Pool Villa.

The island also offers a large selection of food and beverage outlets, offering Chinese, Japanese, Mediterranean, and authentic Maldivian cuisine with ten restaurants and bars to choose from.

The island also boasts the longest pool in the Maldives, tennis courts, an art studio, marine biology centre, kids club, games room, a library, gym, yoga studio and spa.

An endless array of activities and events are  also on offer, including  watersports, diving or snorkelling near the house reef, yoga, Zumba, bicycles, beach volleyball, petanque, arts and crafts lessons to name a few.

Established in 2015, Pulse Hotels & Resorts is owned by Deep Blue Private Limited, an investment company specialising in tourist resorts and other tourism related businesses in the Maldives. Founded in 2005 and with a proven track record of delivering innovative and complex development projects in the Maldives, Deep Blue Private Limited brings decades of experience, expertise, insights, established values and a solid financial base to Pulse Hotels & Resorts.


Finolhu Resort opens

Finolhu, the newest addition to Small Island Co’s portfolio, has welcomed its first guests. Set within the UNESCO biosphere reserve of Baa Atoll, Finolhu is served by the new Baa Atoll airport or can be reached by a 30-minute seaplane ride.

The ultimate island experience for chic couples, fun-loving families and groups of friends alike, Finolhu’s 125 villas come on the ocean, the lagoon or by the beach, with or without pool, and are outfitted with Instagram-worthy interiors and vintage-style Marshall speakers, while bathrooms and spa facilities are stocked with all-natural, organic products from  Neal’s Yard Remedies.

“Finolhu has all the hallmarks of paradise. Translucent waters, 1.8km long white-sand bank and perma-clear skies aside, what really sets it apart from its Maldivian competitors is its effortlessly stylish surrounds and beach clubby-ness,” the resort said in a press statement.

Located on the tip of the island with sweeping views of the Indian Ocean, Finolhu’s star dining venue Kanusan spans three areas: a vibrant overwater bar area; a relaxed indoor space and an al fresco lower deck for an archetypal Maldivian experience surrounded by the sights and sounds of the sea.  An open kitchen puts the cuisine centre stage, embracing the theatricality of Kanusan’s Asian spirit.

Finolhu and Amilla Fushi are owned and developed by The Small Maldives Island Co, part of the Coastline Group of companies.

The Small Maldives Island Company’s focus is on resort management in the Maldives for Coastline Hotels and Resorts.

Established in 1994, the Coastline Group is engaged in logistics; oil importing, storage and distribution; pilling and construction; building material supplies; hotel resort development; condominium development; airport ownership, development and operation; and luxury yacht and boat manufacturing.  It is the largest importer and distributor of Fuel Related Products such as Marine Gasoil and Mo Gas to resorts in the Maldives, servicing 65 per cent of the country’s resorts through its company Asian Gasoil. In addition to building both W Maldives and Huvafen Fushi, Coastline’s recent developments within the tourism sector include Mudhdhoo island, subsequently acquired by Dusit Thani Hotels; Baa Atoll’s Dharavandhoo Airport; and the newly opened Raa Ifhuru Airport.


Maldives welcomes the 500,000th tourist of the year 2016

The Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation together with the Ministry of Tourism welcomed the 500,000th visitor of the year 2016 to Maldives on the 1st June 2016. This event is part of the Visit Maldives Year 2016 campaign which commenced at the beginning of the year with the welcoming of the 1st Visitor to Maldives in 2016.

The 500,000th visitor of the year, Mr Nicolas Lamperin, from France who arrived with his family on an Emirates flight, was welcomed by the Acting Managing Director of MMPRC, Mr. Haris Mohamed, who awarded him with a free holiday at Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru and a commemorative plaque. Officials from MMPRC and the Ministry of Tourism attended the event which took place at the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport.

21,178 French tourists have arrived in Maldives from January till April 2016, contributing to 4.7% of the market share.
 
Visit Maldives Year 2016 is a yearlong campaign to boost tourist arrivals to the destination, with the target of reaching 1.5 million tourist arrivals during the year 2016. Numerous international and local events, competitions and awareness programs will be carried out by MMPRC together with the Ministry of Tourism, to create awareness among tourists and locals, and to display the richness of Maldives as a unique and exotic tourist destination.


Anantara opens first free-diving centre in Maldives

Available to guests at Anantara Dhigu Maldives Resort, Anantara Veli Maldives Resort and Naladhu Maldives, Aquafanatics is the first PADI-certified free diving centre in the island nation. Launching a country first, the free diving centre offers another dimension to ocean-based adventures on the islands.

The less explored activity of free diving strips many restraints attached with traditional scuba diving. A truly liberating activity, it relies on the diver to hold their breath, leaving them free to move unhindered through the translucent Maldivian waters. With no oxygen tank bubbles to distort vision, the vivid colouration of coral life glows brighter than ever. Devoid of heavy equipment, guests move at will alongside inquisitive fish, developing a sense of belonging. With every dive guests acquire the ability to stay below a little longer, discovering more on each descent.

Free diving is entwined with the cultural heritage of the islands in the Indian Ocean. Since ancient times locals have harvested sponges and clasped gleaming pearls from beneath the waves. Anantara’s professional free diving instructor, Mari Kagaya, reveals a peaceful, intrinsic underwater encounter. “The Maldives provide the pinnacle in free diving adventure,” she explains. “Escaping the trappings of scuba gear, our encounters with sea life are graceful, natural and deeply personal. Guests discover their own hidden depths, not only of their body, but also the mind.”


Trans Maldivian Airways introduces air-conditioned seaplanes

Trans Maldivian Airways introduced the first air-conditioned twin otter seaplane service in Maldives.This twin otter aircraft is a 8 seater equipped with onboard airconditioning which cools the cabin. Interior of this aircraft is different from the rest of the fleet with its design being of a VIP configuration.

Aircraft type: Viking Air (deHavilland) DH6-300
Reg: 8Q-MAP
M S/N: 571

The luxury air-conditioned seaplane service is the first of its kind in the Maldives and will undoubtedly contribute to the satisfaction of passengers.


Maldives wins several prestigious awards at World Travel Awards 2016

Maldives wins the prestigious position of the Indian Ocean’s Leading Destination at the 23rd edition of the Annual World Travel Awards; Africa and Indian Ocean held on 9th April in Zanzibar, Tanzania.  Maldives once again secured the prestigious position as the Indian Ocean’s leading Destination after having won the title also in 2015.

Hailed by the Wall Street Journal as the “Travel industry’s equivalent to the Oscar’s”
the World Travel Awards are the most comprehensive and most prestigious awards program in the global travel industry.  It was established in 1993 to acknowledge and celebrate excellence in the world’s travel and tourism industry. 

The Indian Ocean category was introduced in 2003. Since then, the Maldives had won prestigious positions in various categories over the years. 2016 Award series is yet again another tremendous year for the Maldives as a tourist destination. Being a winner of most awards in the most prestigious categories truly bench marks the destination profiling at the highest level. One of the main events of Visit Maldives Year 2016 includes the Maldives hosting the World Travel Awards Grand Finale of 2016.


Saudi Arabian Airlines starts flights to Maldives

Saudi Arabian Airlines has started flights to Maldives. The maiden flight to the Maldives was welcomed with traditional water cannon salute at the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport on Wednesday, 30th March morning.

Saudia will fly twice a week service on Wednesdays and Saturdays from Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport to Ibrahim Nasir International Airport at Malé. The sector is served by an A330 aircraft configured with 26 business class seats and 252 economy seats. Special introductory fares start from USD 550.

Saudia, legally Saudi Arabian Airlines, is the flag carrier airline of Saudi Arabia, based in Jeddah. The airline is the third largest in the Middle East in terms of revenue, behind Emirates and Qatar Airways. It operates domestic and international scheduled flights to over 120 destinations in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Europe and North America. Saudia is a member of the SkyTeam Airline Alliance.


Malé Airport development project to inaugurate in April

The inauguration of the upcoming major project to develop the Maldives main airport will be held April 6 at Dharubaaruge convention centre, announced the airport operator Maldives Airports Company (MACL).

The Managing Director Adil Moosa stated Monday that acquisition of contractors and signing of loan agreements for the development of Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA)’s new runway, fuel farm and other facilities have already been completed. Preliminary work of the project will commence next month.

Meanwhile, MACL is also currently evaluating proposals submitted for the development of INIA’s new terminal.

MACL reported that the project contractor is carrying out soil tests in the designated area, while plans on proceeding with the runway project are currently underway.

MACL had earlier stated that with the construction of the new runway, the current runway will be converted into more of a taxiway.

The Maldives government had signed an MOU with China’s largest construction corporation, Beijing Urban Construction Group (BUCG) last August for the development of INIA’s second runway, which will measure 3.4 kilometres in length. BUCG is renowned for the development of several airports in China and the Beijing National Stadium (Bird’s Nest).

INIA’s new runway project also encompasses land reclamation and the development of a state-of-the-art fuel farm. Currently INIA boasts a fuel farm of 15,000 metric tonnes, which the project will convert to 45,000 metric tonnes, according to MACL.

In addition, two foreign contractors have submitted proposals for the development of INIA’s new terminal, a project with a budget of USD 300 million.

MACL announced Sunday that they will sign the agreement with the project’s contractor at the end of April or beginning of May, and that the project will be underway within this year.


Hulhule Island Hotel wins Best Restaurant Hotel Staff Worldwide Award

Uduvilaa, the picturesque restaurant located at Hulhule Island Hotel, Maldives (HIH) has excelled at the international level by bagging the prestigious Best Hotel Restaurant Staff Worldwide 2015 from Hotel of the Year Awards 2015.

HIH, which by itself is a short ride from the international airport, has Uduvilaa nestled on the top-storey of the hotel’s Deluxe Wing. As you step into the restaurant, you already start feeling the vibes that you are in for a wonderful experience. Charming hostesses lead you to your dining table and at first you are in a dilemma whether to appreciate the restaurant’s chic and modern ambience or the natural, panaromic and almost 360 degree views through the floor to ceiling windows! After a while you realize that the rich teak and warm purple interiors not only blend but complement the beautiful views on the other side of the glass.

Overall, if you are looking for a complete dining experience for yourself and for your guests and are looking for some extra wow touches and moments of truth, just place yourself into Uduvilaa and enjoy the superlative restaurant experience.

Hulhule Island Hotel has won numerous international awards in the past few years, the most prestigious being ‘World’s Leading Airport Resort’ over last three years. Utkarsh Faujdar, General Manager said, “The superlative team has played a major role in the overall success of hotel and winning the prestigious ‘Best Hotel Restaurant Staff Worldwide 2015’ is definitely well deserved”.


Maldives celebrates Chinese New Year 2016 at Maafushi

The Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation together with Ministry of Tourism endures the Visit Maldives Year 2016 campaign by celebrating the Chinese New Year on 8th February 2016 in Maafushi Island.

Chinese New Year is an important Chinese festival celebrated at the turn of the traditional lunisolar Chinese calendar. It is also known as the Spring Festival, the literal translation of the modern Chinese name. 

The event was organized jointly with the Guesthouse Association of Maldives (GAM) and MMPRC to bring out the festival organized. The Chief Guest of the function was The Chinese Ambassador to Maldives H.E Wang Fukang.  It was attended by many officials from MMPRC and Ministry of Tourism as well as a number of major industry stakeholders.

Making the most of this event, a gala dinner at night was open for all tourists in Maafushi with Chinese cuisines, Chinese performances and Maldivian cultural performance such as Boduberu and cultural dances. 

The Visit Maldives Year 2016 will be a year long campaign to boost the number of visitors and tourism receipts of the country. Chinese market holds almost 30% of the market share to Maldives helping to achieve the target arrivals for 2016.

 


Maldives wins 'World’s Leading Beach Destination' title at the World Travel Awards 2015

Maldives wins the prestigious position of the World’s Leading Beach Destination at the annual World Travel Awards Grand Final awards ceremony held at the Mazagan Beach & Golf Resort in Morocco on 12th December 2015. Maldives won against 11 other nominees in the category which included world class beach destinations such as Boracay, Cancun, Miami, Thailand and Turks & Caicos Islands.

For a destination boasting its natural environment and beautiful white beaches as one of the most attractive product elements for visitors, winning the title will definitely strengthen the destination profiling as the best beaches on offer for an international audience.

Moreover, Maldives also won the prestigious positions.

  • World’s Leading Airport Resort – Hulhule Island Hotel, Maldives
  • World’s Leading Seaplane Operator – Trans Maldivian Airways
  • World’s Leading Underwater Hotel Restaurant – Sea at Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas
  • World’s Leading Water Villa Resort – Ayada Maldives
  • World’s Most Romantic Resort – Baros Maldives

World travel awards are well-known as the highest and most exclusive award ceremony in the Travel and Tourism Industry. It is also renowned as the “Oscars of the Travel Industry.” Today, the World Travel Awards™ brand is recognized globally as the ultimate hallmark of quality, with winners setting the benchmark to which all others aspire.

With the winning of these awards, 2015 Awards series is yet again another tremendous year for the Maldives as a tourist destination. Winning awards in these prestigious categories truly bench marks the destination profiling at the highest level as Maldives gears up for the Visit Maldives year 2016.

While this year marks the 22nd anniversary of the World travel Awards, Maldives was honored the opportunity to host the World Travel Awards Grand Finale 2016 as one of the main events of Visit Maldives Year. To host the most prestigious event of the travel and tourism industry will indeed strengthen brand Maldives…sunny side of life. All in all, with grand tourism celebrations, 2016 will be a momentous year for the tourism industry of Maldives.


Small Maldives Island Company Plans Second Resort

Having launched the Amilla Fushi resort earlier this year, The Small Maldives Island Company has unveiled details of its sister resort, Finolhu, which is scheduled to open in summer 2016.

Located in the Baa Atoll, Finolhu will be a 'refined, retro-inspired' resort, according to the company, located 30 minutes by speedboat from Amilla Fushi. The property will feature a range of one- or two-bedroom villas, with beach and over-water options. There are seven villa types to choose from, some of which offer private pools.

The Small Maldives Island Co. has once again teamed up with famous Australian chef Luke Mangan, who will launch the Fish & Crab Shack at Finolhu. The company said the restaurant would be an 'island outpost of Salt Grill', Mangan’s restaurant in Singapore. Other F&B outlets will include Baa Bar and Dining, offering al fresco meals, Kanusan, which specialises in Asian cuisine, and the Baa Baa Beach Club.

The main entertainment area of Finolhu will be The Cove, a retro-style relaxation area which will feature a fitness centre, yoga pavilion, an outdoor ‘jungle gym’, retail pavilion, steam room, sauna, salon, and activities such as ballet and kickboxing. There will also by a water sports and dive centre and a children’s activity centre.

Both Amilla Fushi and Finolhu are owned by Coastline Hotels & Resorts, which forms part of Maldivian conglomerate The Coastline Group.


Maldives Tops Favourite Destination List Of Chinese Tourists

Maldives has topped a list of 20 island destinations most favoured by Chinese tourists, who have been the world’s No 1 cross-border visitors for the past three years, spending billions of dollars on outbound tours.

The announcement was made at the 2015 International Islands Tourism Conference in east China’s Zhejiang Province.

Taiwan, Bali, and Thailand’s Phuket Island have also been favoured by Chinese tourists in the list, which was created after a poll by the conference’s organisation committee and after evaluation by an expert panel.

The poll began in June, drawing more than three million responses for more than 70 destinations. The poll was conducted via the committee’s website, and some other portals and microblog services.

Chinese islands filled five spots on the list, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

China has been the world’s No 1 source of cross-border tourists since 2012, according to the World Tourism Organisation. In 2013, the organization said, Chinese outbound travelers spent a total of USD 129 billion.

China’s outbound tourists made nearly 24 million trips to islands in 2014, and the number is likely to exceed 30 million this year.

China’s outbound tourism has grown dramatically in recent months despite its economy economy contacted sharply. The World Bank recently revised its projections for China’s economic growth from 7.1 per cent to 6.9 per cent.

The conference, which was held in Zhujiajian Island of Zhoushan City, was organized by China’s National Tourism Administration and the provincial government of Zhejiang province.