The Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO) has said that the country is not undertaking enough marketing to create demand for the increasing number of tourism facilities and services.

MATATO’s statement was in a response to World Bank claims that the Maldives’ revenue and GDP growth is slowing due to tourists opting for guesthouses, which offer cheaper stays, over luxury resorts — the World Bank, in identifying the trend, cut its growth forecast for the Maldives from 5.2 percent to 4.7 percent in its South Asia Development Update report released this month.

However, MATATO attributed the decline to the gap between demand and service delivery in the tourism sector. The World Bank report only took into account data up to the third quarter of last year, which does not provide a complete picture, MATATO said.

“… MATATO has also noticed a reduction in average daily rates or prices for services across the sector and a lack of planned marketing efforts to meet the increased supply,” the association said in its statement.

The increasing number of resorts, guesthouses and safaris are not being adequately advertised to attract tourists, MATATO underlined.

MATATO also highlighted that there are very few planned activities to market the Maldives and that, according to its findings, 49 percent of the Maldives’ 62,822 tourist beds were unoccupied at the end of last year. The average number of days spent by tourists in the country also fell — from 8.1 in 2022 to 7.6 in 2023.

The Maldives is facing increased competition due to rising global inflation and the reopening of other beach destinations after the pandemic shutdown, MATATO outlined, while going on to highlight that tourism revenue declined by MVR 2.5 billion between 2022 and 2023.

The Ministry of Tourism, together with the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC), are chiefly responsible for promoting the Maldives’ tourism. In addition to various digital marketing activities, the Maldives is also represented at several visibility high tourism fairs around the world.