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One Island One Resort Kept Maldives Active Through Pandemic

How Maldives managed to be one of the first luxury tourism destination to reopen during the pandemic and what learning they carry forward in the hospitality industry

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Maldives is home to 1,192 coral islands and sand banks, only 200 of which are inhabited and about 150 of those are island resorts. A household name in the tourism industry, Maldives has become a popular location for those looking to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. During the pandemic, the island like many other travel destinations closed down for the first time from March 2020, which devastated the tourism industry. According to the Worldbank report, tourism and related services in the Maldives directly contributed to nearly 40 percent of the economy in March 2022. Despite the setbacks, it was still one of the first locations to welcome back travellers in July 2020, a news that surprised most of the world that was suffering from lockdowns and travel restrictions.

One Island One Resort

The archipelago adapts a One Island One Resort concept, that only allows one resort to be built on an island, which created the exclusivity and privacy that the multi-island nation is now famous for. The concept is perfect for honeymoon couples, families, friend groups and even solo travellers who are  looking for privacy as all resorts are able to provide proper space and seclusion, making the it the perfect getaway from the city.

Reflecting back on the last two years, many resort managers agree that the concept played a big role in how they islands were able to reorganise themselves during the outbreak in 2020. M Sundaram, General Manager, The Residence Maldives Falhumaafushi & Dhigurah says, “'One Island One Resort has really helped Maldives to a large extent for the effective control of Covid-19 cases at the same time keep the tourist arrivals increasing during the difficult times. With its unique one Island concept it was able to control the spread of Covid-19 cases amongst the tourists as well as the local population.” 

Explaining this, Ibrahim Ali, Executive Resident Manager, Kuramathi Island Resort, adds that this proved to be strategic for us during the height of the pandemic and being geographically distant allowed us to be self-contained where we can operate securely and assure the safety of our guests and team members.

Even after cases went down and travel restriction relaxed the demand for privacy in a serene detination surrounded by blue lagoons continued. Manoharan Mannarlingam, Area General Manager, Noku Maldives, a boutique resort adds, “Exclusivity and privacy is still in great demand especially after the pandemic. Aside from the experience, guests feel they have the space and feel safe when they are away from the hustle and bustle.”

It seems the need to escape remains a constant for visitor, as well as, leisure travel that can keep travellers simultaneously occupied and relaxed.

Boosting creativity and diversifying

According to a Mastercard Economics Institute report in March 2022, the leisure travel industry had jumped back to its pre-pandemic numbers. Despite this managers of resorts around the island nation carry lessons from this trying time. 

“Covid-19 pandemic has forced the hotel industry to boost creativity and innovation and remain competitive. The hotel industry must be aware of the changes in the consumer behaviour. This will impact how, why, when and where the tourists decide to spend their money,“ says Sundaram. Despite jumping back, the island resort continue to expand their food and beverages options as well as find innovative ways to enhance the guest experience. Ali adds that they are seeing more Indian tourists in their mix and have adapted their menu to better accommodate Indians palate, he states that its important “to be flexible and adapt to constant changes yet provide a guest experience that is safe yet most enjoyable.”

Mannarlingam sums it up by stating, “We must diversify our market segment approach and not limit it to just a few markets. We have not recovered as some of our markets have yet.” Confidence, security and comfort are needed to revive the hospitality industry. Diversifying markets and adapting to new tourists are key to growing in the hospitality sector.

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One Island One Resort maldives pandemic tourism travel