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The popularity of the Maldives as a honeymoon destination has increased exponentially over the past 5 years, a survey conducted by the government revealed.

One third (30%) of tourists to the Maldives stated honeymoon as their purpose of holiday. This increase in the honeymoon segment is up from about 12% in 1999.

Over half of those responding to the survey (53%) stated their purpose of visit as leisure, relaxation and holiday. 15% of visitors comprises scuba divers, according to the Tourist Opinion Survey Report, 2004.

Other interesting trends evident from the survey are the increasing number of visitors to the Maldives for their Anniversary and the growth in the surfer segment.

The Ministry of Tourism has begun consultations with stakeholders on developing the 3rd Tourism Masterplan for the Maldives.

The 5 year plan will be effective from 2006.The stakeholder workshop held last Saturday included 130 participants from the different sectors of the tourism industry and public officers such as Atoll Chiefs and other officials from the atolls.

The Masterplan is being developed by the Ministry of Tourism with the assistance of Chief Technical Expert, Professor Jack Carlsen of Western Australia and a team of seven consultants from the Maldives.

Indian Airlines has introduced promotional fares to the Indian city of Bangalore from Male'. The return fare of US$199 is valid through March 2007.

Fares to some other Indian cities to be connected through Bangalore have also been lowered. Return fare to the southern cities of Chennai (Madras) and Hyderabad is US$299. Mumbai US$399 and the Indian capital Delhi is US$449.

These special fares were valid only on 3 month tickets while one year validity tickets attract the usual fare, Indian Airlines said.

Direct flights between Male' and Bangalore were begun on the second of this November.

Ten out of the 35 new islands to be developed as tourist resorts would cater to the high - end market (up - market), the Ministry of Tourism has revealed. These high- end resorts will have a bed capacity of 716, the Ministry said.

Ten islands with 1880 beds would cater to the middle market, while 15 islands will be allocated  to the Maldives Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC). The Maldives government owns 45% shares in the MTDC and the public holds 55%. The total bed capacity in the Maldives is expected to reach 30 thousand within the next 3 to 5 years, the Ministry said. This would include the capacity increases in guest houses, city hotels and the safari / cruise vessels. At present the 88 resort islands provide 87% of the approximately 20 thousand beds. 

Arrival to the Maldives by end October this year recorded a 15% increase over arrivals in the same period last year, media reports said.

Arrivals figures of end October this year stood at 54, 721, according to government statistics. 
Tourists from the UK registered the highest arrivals in October this year at 10,576, with Italy the second, registering 8,368 tourists.
Germany, Japan, China, and Switzerland also showed healthy growth to the Maldives in October, media reports said,
 

The Maldives is expected to receive over 620 thousand tourists this year, according to the Ministry of Tourism.

In a statement in the Ministry's new publication "Tourism Yearbook 2006", the Ministry said this figure would set a new record for the country in annual arrivals.
The Ministry also forecasts a significant change in the composition of market share by "capitalizing" more on the new markets of China, Russia and India. Tourists from Western European countries formed 77 percent of total arrivals to the Maldives in 2005.
 

A 50 bed resort will be built by the Maldives Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) on the island of Uligamu in the north of the country, local daily Haveeru said.

MTDC itself would build the resort, reports said, with work scheduled to begin without delay when the land is allocated by the Ministry of Tourism.
The company revealed that public areas for the resort would be built to cater to about 100 guests while the initial guest accommodation would be for 50. Room capacity could be increased with the maturing of business; the MTDC was reported as saying.
One of Uligamu’s main attractions is that the island is already a popular yacht marina, catering, at present, to about 100 yachts annually.
The company was confident this business would grow, making Uligamu a leading yacht marina in the area, Haveeru said.

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