Maldives will announce a new slogan to promote travel and tourism to the luxury Indian Ocean island destination within the "next few weeks ," according to the Maldives Traveller.
The local Minivan News reported that there was confusion among industry insiders after a local media erroneously reported that "Value for Money" will replace the current "The Sunny Side of Life."
The online newspaper claimed that Tourism Minister Dr. Mariyam Zulfa's comment that "We will probably go towards a slogan reflecting a value for money product" was "taken out of context" with the Maldives Tourism Promotion Board (MTPB) later saying that the slogan was not yet finalized. MTPB was quoted as saying that "it would be announcing a new slogan in the next few weeks."
"The Minister has made it explicitly clear that the new slogan will be designed so that it appeals to a wide range of potential tourists; including those with high incomes as well as tourists seeking a more affordable holiday in the Maldives," Minivan quoted MTPB as saying.
Some tourism industry insiders have already expressed their reservations that "now is not a good time to rebrand the Maldives."
"This is not the time for a change of clothes," MATATO Secretary General Maleeh Jamaal told Maldives Traveller earlier. At this time of world economic crisis, rebranding Maldives' tourism would put "additional financial and human resource pressures" on the private sector which mainly operate resorts here, he had said.
MATATO said that MTPB's budget for advertising Maldives will increase heavily because promoting a minor aspect of tourism like cultural tourism "will take immense effort."
"But once such pressures disappear, Maldives can experiment with cultural tourism because it would require immense effort to get such a minor aspect of tourism established," Maleeh said.
On Monday resort owner and Maldives' MP Ahmed Shiyam Mohamed was quoted by the local Haveeru Daily as saying that "competitors" might "snatch away" the tourism industry from Maldives if "advertising and promotion budget is reduced."
Shiyam told a Parliament sitting to discuss the National Budget for 2011 that the Rf22 million allocated for tourism promotion "is equivalent to the amount used by a 100-bed resort for marketing."
"Our competitors, Sri Lanka, Mauritius and Seychelles use about Rf60 to Rf80 million [for tourism promotion]," Haveeru quoted the Chairman of Sun Travels and Tours as saying. He further blamed the small promotion budget for the decrease in tourist arrivals from some destinations.
But the Maldives' Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture have already disclosed plans to change Maldives' current advertising slogan, ‘The Sunny Side of Life', to one that would divert the traditional tourist interest from "sun, sea and sand" to "cultural tourism.."
"The Maldives is a vibrant, thriving destination that is embracing its heritage while continuing to transition into a 21st-century nation," Thoyyib Mohamed, Minister of State for Tourism, had said of the rebranding exercise. "We aim to unite all of the country's unique natural, cultural and historical attributes and enliven them with fresh dynamism to position the Maldives as the must-see destination of our time for all travellers."
"The Maldives is far more than just sun and sea," according to Simon Hawkins, consultant to MTPB. "This is a nation rich with a distinct culture, fascinating history, dynamic people, and of course, pristine natural beauty. The new face of the Maldives wil give travellers from across the spectrum even more reasons to come and experience a truly diverse array of island experiences."