The Maldives has made strides in positioning the island nation as an enviable destination that perfectly balances work and play
Traditionally perceived as a honeymoon destination, the Maldives Marketing and PR Corporation (MMPRC) has been hard at work for the last three years in pushing to show the world that island nation is also suitable for business events with a touch of leisure.
That is why Redefining MICE, Maldives’ global business events campaign launched in 2021, did not focus on merely event venues. Instead, it also played up Maldives’ natural beauty and activities, such as snorkelling with manta rays, to demonstrate the breadth of possible event ideas that offer planners a seamless transition between work and play.
“Redefining MICE has helped to raise awareness about MICE in the Maldives. Crossroads Maldives (an integrated entertainment destination developed and operated by S Hotels and Resorts) and other resorts with MICE facilities have enjoyed an increase in events since 2022,” Crossroads Maldives’ cluster director of sales & marketing, David Arul Pragasam, told TTGmice.
He is “confident that this positive trend will continue”, evident as “plenty of enquiries and quotes are being provided for 2024 and 2025”.
The recent Visit Maldives Storytellers’ Conference 2023 was a clear demonstration of both the destination and the integrated resort’s ability to welcome major business events.
CEO of Soneva, Sonu Shivdasani, has also observed a growing interest among corporate clients for at its two properties in the Maldives – Soneva Fushi and Soneva Jani.
He said: “We have seen a healthy surge of 40 to 50 per cent in enquiries and bookings specifically related to MICE from shorthaul markets such as Singapore, India and the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council), and look forward to watching the segment grow further.”
Soneva is no stranger to large-scale events, as it runs JLF Soneva Fushi, a 10-day festival celebrating literature, art, culture and live performances.
“While this does not fall under MICE, events like these provide us with invaluable experience in hosting large-scale gatherings. The insights and expertise from efficiently managing logistics and delivering exceptional hospitality… strengthen our ability to handle large MICE groups effectively,” Shivdasani remarked.
Helen Bolton, director of sales and marketing, Mihiri Island Resort, is also seeing incentive requests filtering through to her property. She has put together targeted marketing plans to encourage island buyouts during the low season between May and October.
“Traditionally, our markets are Germany, Austria and Switzerland. But this year, we’re really focusing on Asia-Pacific, such as China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand,” Bolton shared.
Shivdasani added: “During the low season, we focus on attracting MICE-related business. We have designed three- to five-night packages that combine business and leisure, which includes F&B, wellness programmes, and excursions to showcase Maldives’ natural beauty.”
Suresh Dissanayake, assistant vice president – sales & marketing at Heritance Aarah & Adaaran Resorts, is similarly targeting Asia-Pacific groups and events.
“People may not travel all the way from Europe to Maldives for a conference. We’re focused on South-east Asia, where there are direct flights within a four- to five-hour radius, making it convenient for them to fly to the Maldives for a corporate event, and have leisure time,” he elaborated.
To get the word out, Dissanayake actively participates in tradeshows such as IMEX Frankfurt.
“It’s a big investment for us but we have to look at the long run. Companies don’t decide immediately whether they will hold an event in the Maldives, it usually takes six months. But we are patient, and I plan to grow the MICE segment,” he shared.
Crossroads Maldives has also joined forces with MMPRC to participate in key tradeshows like IMEX and ITB Asia, and uses business events lead generation tools such as 1000Meetings, Cvent and Meeting Broker.
“Having a strong presence at major tradeshows is crucial,” Shivdasani stressed.
But for the Maldives to establish itself as a recognised business events destination, Shivdasani said government support is vital.
He added: “It is also necessary to collaborate with renowned MICE associations like ICCA and MPI (Meeting Professionals International), as well as professional MICE chapters, DMCs, and event management companies. These collaborations can provide valuable expertise, resources, and networks that cater specifically to the needs of business events.”