VANILLA ISLANDS READY TO BENEFIT FROM NEW MALDIVES BLUNDER
Only weeks after first banning all resort Spas across the Maldives islands for allegedly being brothels in disguise, and then making a swift U-turn when the fall out of the potential damage to the lucrative tourism businesses became evident in the wake of nearly unprecedented condemnation of the decree by the international tourism fraternity, is another major blunder in the making in the Maldives.
Information was received that the international airports monopolist handling company has sent information to airlines that they intend to raise their fees and charges by over 50 percent, raising equal alarm for the future of tourism entirely dependent on air traffic. Condemnation, like in the attempt to ban Spas from the islands resorts, was swift and harsh and the outspoken CEO of Qatar Airways was quoted of saying the proposed fee hike was totally unreasonable and could lead to threaten the future of [Qatar Airways] services to the holiday islands. Other airlines, it is understood from sources in Europe, with regular charters to the Maldives Male International Airport, have also immediately talked of the reduction in flights or pulling out altogether, once again painting a grim picture for the Maldives as a preferred destination. A source in a major German holiday firm, in charge of contracting hotels, had this to say in an overnight email: The issue of the Spas was highly political and if not reversed would have damaged the reputation of the Maldives and tourists would have switched to other Indian Ocean destinations like Seychelles for instance. While that ban was reversed we are monitoring the situation as the political constellation in Maldives can bring this back on the agenda any time again. But the increase for handling of charters by 51 percent is now just another problem we have with them. Our holiday packages are price inflexible, when clients book and pay we cannot raise prices and yet our cost, the cost for the airlines, rise. I dont think the people responsible for such actions in Maldives understand what they are doing. In todays economic climate tourism is already hit by uncertainties and when a destination then catapults itself into the negative headlines, they have it twice as difficult to promote their destination. Again I say here, like a few weeks ago, the Seychelles are on a media offensive and have phantastic offers, excellent connections on scheduled flights and a weekly flight by Condor, and so has Mauritius, so we got options here. If one destination messes up the Seychelles will be happy to get our business and our clients will need not much persuading to shift from one island destination which is going berserk to another which is friendly and keen for business.
No comments were received yet from any of the Vanilla Islands but as the Maldives are busy upsetting the market with such actions, both Mauritius and the Seychelles and to a lesser extent La Reunion will be keen to step up their marketing efforts to cash in on the self created woes of one of their main competitors in the Indian Ocean. Watch this space how the latest faux pas of the Maldives plays out.