By Vishakha Talreja
Once the brutal second wave subsided, the pictures of Indians holidaying in Maldives were back with a bang on Instagram. Bollywood actor Kareena Kapoor Khan’s pictures holidaying with her husband and both her sons continued to gain likes by twitterati and paparazzi; influencer couple Gaurav Taneja and Ritu Rathee’s videos of family travel to Maldives, with daughter and parents, garnered millions of views. Maldives has strengthened its position as a family getaway, elbowing out other international travel destinations that are still not allowing Indians.
The plush resorts of Maldives with expansive kid’s clubs make it an ideal choice for family vacation. Maldives offers visa-on-arrival to Indians and being vaccinated is not mandatory. Tourists, including kids, need a negative RT-PCR test to avail visa on arrival. These easy norms have also encouraged Indians to visit the beautiful islands of Maldives.
“India has emerged as one of the top source markets for us, and many are coming in big family groups. Besides a kids club with a water park, we have a packed itinerary for our young guests that includes activities such as pizza baking, kite flying on the beach and treasure hunts,” explains Marc Reader, general manager, Finolhu Baa Atoll. Finolhu is a luxury resort with 125 villas and a kids club. The kids club at Finolhu, called The Oceaner’s Club, also offers birthday packages that are popular.
Maldives has resorts that house some of the largest kids clubs, a hit among other South Asian and Middle East tourists as well.
“There has been a slight shift in the trend post travel reopening where we see more and more Indian families intending to travel together as a unit to avoid any unforeseen risks. While this trend continues, we have also seen a near future trend of Indian couples and honeymooners showing a very strong interest in travel bookings,” points out Neeraj Seth, Cluster Director of Marketing Communications at Kandima and Nova Maldives.
Travel company Pick Your Trail that specializes in personalizing vacations using tech says that when most countries were closed for Indians, Maldives almost made up for the lost business from other outbound destinations, such has been the popularity of the destination.
“There is an uptick in the number of family travelers to Maldives, though the number is not as high as that of honeymooners. Even though other destinations are opening up, Maldives continues to be popular. Many people are booking family holidays, inspired by influencers and celebs,” says Hari Ganapathy, co-founder, PickYourTrail.
Not just hotels, looking at the rising popularity airlines too are eying a greater share in the Indian outbound market. Maldivian, the national carrier of Maldives, will commence direct flights from New Delhi to Male and Maafaru Airport starting October 21st. Indian carrier SpiceJet too has added direct flights to Male this month.
(The author is a travel and lifestyle writer. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)