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Singapore Airlines today announced a 26 percent capacity increase into the Maldives with the introduction of the B777-200 flight service to the Maldives.

The capacity increase by Singapore Airlines, which is a major carrier of tourists to the Maldives, will be a big boost for the tourism industry of the Maldives, a tour operator said.

 

"We are committed to our services into the Maldives and the 26 percent increase in capacity reflect our confidence in the market," said Singapore Airlines’ Vice President for West Asia and Africa, Paul Tan.

 

"As demand improves into this vibrant market, popular with honeymooners, diving enthusiasts or those looking for a quiet getaway, Singapore Airlines is committed to continue renewing the demand with a view for additional capacity," he said.

 

Flights will depart Singapore on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 2035 hours and arrive in Male’ International Airport at 2150 hours. Singapore bound direct flights will depart Male’ at 2305 hours on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays arriving at 0645 hours.

 

The B777-200 flight to Male’ marks a huge increase in Raffles Class with 150 seats offered weekly as compared to the current 84 seats. The flight has a seating capacity of 30 in Raffles Class and 293 in Economy Class.

 

Passengers traveling to and from Male’ on the B777-200 aircraft can look forward to enhanced seating comfort with more legroom from the current A310-300 services. They will also be able to experience the new generation of KrisWorld entertainment system, offering an even wider selection of films, short features and games.

 

By June 2003, Singapore Airlines will retire its A310-300 flight service to the Maldives.

A “Maldivian Night” was held in Bombay (Mumbai) recently to promote Maldives’ tourism. The promotional evening was held at the Taj hotel on May 18 and was attended by Maldives Tourism Minister Hassan Sobir.

At the ceremony, Sobir thanked the private sector for all the hard work they carried out to promote Maldives as a tourist destination for India.

 

According to statistics from the Tourism Ministry, the number of tourists from India to Maldives marked a gradual increase over the past few years.

 

Last year, more than 11,300 Indians visited the Maldives which is a 33 percent increase in tourist arrivals from India for the year 2001.

 

In addition, the percentage of tourist arrivals from India to the Maldives for the period January-April 2003 marked a 1.7 percent increase over the year-ago period.

 

Most Indian travelers to Maldives are from Bombay, according to tour operators. Another “Maldivian Night” was also held in India two days after the Bombay event; this ceremony was held in the Taj Hotel in Bangalore on May 20 and was also graced by Maldives Tourism Minister Hassan Sobir.

The O'Neill Deep Blue Open 2003, the prestigious 5-star World Qualifying Series prime surf event will be held in the Maldives from 9 - 15 June 2003.

This is the third consecutive year Maldives is hosting this premium event for world's top surfers.

The event will be coordinated by the Maldives Tourism Promotion Board (MTPB) and the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) of Australia.

A number of international surfers will be arriving in the Maldives for the event, together with some of the top surfers of the world.

It is expected that a huge international media coverage through various media will be given to the event, cementing Maldives' reputation as a prime surfing destination.

This year's event would also be web cast live to gain further exposure to the Maldives as the surfer's ultimate dream destination.

In short, No, if statistics from the last few months speak for themselves.According to statistics from the Ministry of Tourism for the months March and April 2003, there was no downturn in tourist arrivals to the Maldives.

On the contrary, tourist arrivals to the Maldives actually increased in the period March-April 2003 compared to the same period a year ago.

 

Tourist arrivals over the last two months showed a 25 percent increase over the year-ago period.

 

Tourists from Italy and the United Kindgom notably increased in March and April 2003.

 

Kuoni International, a major tour operator, was quoted by local newspapers as saying that there was no negative impact whatsoever from the war on Iraq and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) on Maldives tourism.

 

Kuoni officials said that they have found no adverse effects on resort bookings over the next few months as well.

 

Maldives has so far no reported SARS cases. The country has introduced strict measures against the prevention of SARS, notably strengthening screening measures at the Male International Airport.

The Inter-resort Volleyball Tournament hosted by the Ministry of Tourism has been delayed to August.

The event was earlier planned to start during the first week of June. Many resorts have already started practice sessions among its volley ball teams.

Local media reported that no reason was yet revealed by the Tourism Ministry as to why the tournament has been postponed.

The tournament will be held for two divisions; the first division will have more professional players while the second division would have more amateur players.

MALE, May 19 -- Tourist arrivals to the Maldives increased by 23 percent from January to April 2003 compared to the same year-ago period, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Tourism.

The Ministry said that 216,392 tourists arrived in the Maldives by April 2003 compared to 175,162 arrivals for the same period last year.

 

April 2003 also saw an increase in tourist arrivals compared to April 2002; 48,742 tourist arrivals were recorded in April 2003 compared to 42,647 arrivals in April 2002.

 

The most number of tourist arrivals during this year were from Italy; 66,273.

 

Italian tourists arrived in the Maldives in the period January-April 2003.

MALE, May 19 -- Maldives' "Vision 2020" envisions resort islands been set up across the whole archipelago by the year 2020.

The book published on the Maldives Vision 2020 by the President's Office recently said that within the next 16 years, there will be resorts and hotels in all the 20 atolls of the Maldives.

 

When tourism started in the Maldives 30 years ago in 1972, resorts and hotels were concentrated in the Male' Atoll region. However, soon the tourism industry spread to the nearby Ari Atoll. Now, a yacht marina is in the pipeline to be developed in Haa Alifu, Maldives' northernmost atoll, while the Shangri-La chain is developing a 1,500-bed resort island in Addu, Maldives' southernmost atoll.

 

While the book on Vision 2020 envisioned resort islands in the whole Maldives, it is also expected that Maldives will expand its tourist market to break the up-market monopoly held by many resort islands. Economists expect this trend to result in economic benefits shared by a wider spectrum of the local population.

 

The long-term aim of the government is to overcome economic disparities between city dwellers and rural folks.

MALE, May 19 -- The inter-resort volleyball tournament is to start on June 1. To make the tournament more competitive this time, the Ministry of Tourism has created two divisions which will be participated by all interested resorts.

A more exciting dimension to the tournament will be the fact that this time, the whole tournament will be conducted in resort islands. Up until now, the five inter-resort volleyball tournaments held so far were held in the capital Male'.

 

An official from the Tourism Ministry said that the decision to create a First Division and Second Division for the tournament was reached after recommendations by the resorts.

 

The new arrangement is expected to create a more competitive edge in the First Division, which will be participated by many professional volleyball players, and the Second Division in which more amateur players will compete.

COLOMBO, May 9 (AFP) - Maldives is seeking joint tourism promotion with Sri Lanka as part of efforts to boost their bilateral trade and economic cooperation, President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom said here yesterday. The two countries have entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to establish a task force to study areas of cooperation in tourism, a key source of foreign exchange for both South Asian nations.

“A highlight of my visit is the MOU on tourism,” Gayoom said at the end of his four-day official visit during which he held talks with President Chandrika Kumaratunga and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Sri Lanka is a key transit point for tourists travelling onto the neighbouring Maldives, which is known for its white sandy beaches, crystal clear lagoons and an abundance of tropical fish surrounding its coral-protected tiny islets.

Fighting between government forces and Tamil Tiger rebels in the past three decades hurt tourism in Sri Lanka but a ceasefire since February last year has seen a rise in the number of foreign visitors.

Any improvement in tourism in Sri Lanka is seen as having a knock on effect for the Maldives with many high-spenders combining both destinations in one holiday package.

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