NATIONAL flag carrier Maldivian is looking to begin charter services from capital Malé to New Delhi in the next two to three months, pending approval from India.
According to Hussain Lirar, deputy tourism minister of the Maldives: “Last year, 30,000 Indians visited the Maldives. We are targeting 50,000 Indian arrivals in 2014 and we hope that direct connectivity between New Delhi and Malé will help us to achieve this target.”
A trade source told TTG Asia e-Daily the airline has decided on a thrice-weekly frequency. Maldivian currently runs flights to Thiruvananthapuram and Chennai.
However travel consultants are sceptical of the likely impact on traffic. Riaz Munshi, vice president of the Outbound Tour Operators Association of India, said ticket prices were a key consideration.
“I think India is not ready for a charter service between the two countries,” he said.
Others felt destination awareness was a bigger obstacle. “There is a need to educate the trade about the various tourist offerings in the Maldives as they are the people who sell the destination. This, combined with roadshows and trade and media fam trips, will help to increase Indian tourist arrivals to the Maldives,” said Vineet Gopal, managing director, Engee Holidys.
Meanwhile, Lirar said the Maldives is inviting the Indian private sector to help develop its north and south regions for tourism.