The Maldives was well known as a high-end tourism destination since the establishment of tourism in 1972. The country was labeled as an expensive place to spend a vacation among its visitors, due to the limited accommodation options in the country. The tourism sector was dominated by high-end resorts for decades. However, with the granted permission in 2009, to operate guesthouses in the local islands brought a revolution to the tourism industry in the Maldives. Since then local island tourism sector has been one of the fastest-growing sectors in the tourism industry.
Local island tourism plays an important role in the Maldives tourism industry and the country’s economy. It gives visitors a cheaper alternative for mid to low market segments, which results in an increase of the tourist flow to the country. It also plays an important role in the tourism benefits diversification process.
Currently, the sector accounts for over 20 % of the total bed capacity in the Maldives. According to the Ministry of Tourism, by the end of 2019, there are over 608 registered guesthouses and 607 operating guesthouses in the country with over 9,800 beds. The Maldives will need half a million tourists for local island tourism with over 2.5 million bed nights by 2023.
The major questions remain whether the Maldives is ready to accommodate this requirement in terms of aviation & transport network. This means we will need over 500,000 budget airline seats to accommodate travelers to local island tourism. Questions remain whether the current domestic network of aviation is equipped to handle this demand with better air ticket prices to foreign nationals. Currently, the major challenge is the lack of sufficient international budget carriers to the Maldives along with a pricey & inadequate domestic aviation network.