Asian millennials are driving the boom in budget travel to the Maldives, observed inbound players in the atoll nation traditionally perceived as an upmarket resort destination.
This rising segment typically spends between US$80 to US$200 per night on accommodation and prefers staying in guesthouses on the local islands, although a handful of travellers will also combine a night in a resort island for the experience, Mohamed Reza, director business development at Sunset Maldives, told TTG Asia at the inaugural Travel Trade Maldives show in Malé.
Thinadhoo island; Photo credit: Plumeria Maldives Hotel
Millennial travellers from India, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand have driven business up for the inbound tour agency by 35 per cent year-on-year. “They tend to look for good deals online but use the services of a travel agent for sightseeing,” Reza added.
He also noted that the biggest beneficiary of the budget segment boom are the islands located within three hours by speed boat from Malé. He added: “The challenge for guesthouses located on faraway islands outside this three-hour radius is the high airfares. It is cheaper to get to Sri Lanka from Male, compared to taking a domestic flight to these islands.”
On Thinadhoo Island, Plumeria Maldives Hotel has seen a 10 per cent year-on-year increase from budget travellers, mainly made up of young adults and undergraduates from China, Malaysia and India, said sales executive, Rial Hossain. He commented: “They tend to make use of last-minute online deals and take advantage of the low season from May to July.”
Meanwhile, daily AirAsia flights to Malé as well as discounts and room upgrades offered to credit card holders are also fuelling a spike in bookings from Malaysia to the four-star Bandos Maldives, according to sales and marketing executive Anna Nasyim. The resort is 15 minutes by speedboat from Malé International Airport.