Island destinations court the Gulf

Herb Festival, one of ten unusual festivals in Cyprus

Although there are several island destinations in the world, four key ones come to mind from their extensive presence in the recently concluded ATM - Cyprus, Maldives, Mauritius and Seychelles – clearly, all four are keen to court the Gulf market.

Well-known for its stunning Blue Flag beaches and cultural experiences, the idyllic Mediterranean island of Cyprus is home to an unusually diverse spread of wild and wonderful nature-themed family festivals running all through the summer – and they’re being marketed as perfect for travellers from the GCC.

Cyprus is the third largest island in the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea. As a fully-fledged member of the European Union (EU), Cyprus is the closest European destination for GCC travellers, a fact that the newly appointed Deputy Minister of Tourism, Savvas Perdios, highlights during a meeting with TTN. “It’s a friendly country, it’s the closest EU destination and it has some great experiences to offer.”

Meanwhile, Cyprus’ increasing hotel and resort portfolio is expected to grow by 1,634 rooms this year, with seven new luxury hotels due to open across the idyllic Mediterranean island before the end of 2019.

Last year, 361,844 tourists visited Seychelles and Mauritius welcomed 1,399,408 tourists. The destinations’ main markets include France, UK, Germany, India, Italy, China, the Russian Federation, and the UAE.

Visitors from Saudi Arabia to Mauritius increased by 221 per cent last year. Mauritius Minister of Tourism Anil Kumarsingh Gayan said: “Mauritius is a world in miniature where different cultures, religions and ethnic groups thrive in peace and harmony. Mauritius offers not only distinctive luxurious experiences, but also eco-tourism, wellness and spa, adventure sports, conferencing and incentive programmes, as well as amazing golf courses, hiking, horse riding, hunting, nature and wildlife, zip line excursions, jeep safari, walking with lions, skydiving and trekking to name just a few of the activities in addition to all the sea-based activities that can be enjoyed.”

The minister added: “All food served in Mauritius hotel restaurants and retail outlets are halal certified.”
When it comes to the Seychelles, the GCC is the fourth feeder market, finishing off the year 2018 with more than 32,000 visitors from the region. “We are hopeful and anticipating to surpass last year's visitor arrivals to the destination by participating in different travel and trade events in the GCC that will serve as a platform to personally meet with new and existing trade partners,” said Ahmed Fathallah, regional manager, Seychelles Tourism Board Office in Dubai.

For the Maldives, the Middle East region, especially the UAE and Saudi Arabia markets hold much potential. Last year, a total of the 52,114 tourists from the region visited the Maldives. From January to March 2019, 12,810 tourist arrived Maldives from the Middle East region, which is a growth of 7.7 per cent compared to the same period last year.

While most travellers visiting the Maldives wish to engage in rejuvenation, wellness and exploration, relaxation is one of the biggest motivational factors for the Middle East market, followed by quality of accommodation and good weather.

* Which island destination do you see your clients headed to this summer? Please reach out to [email protected]