The Maldives has seen arrivals in the first quarter of 2019 growing by 15% year-on-year, reaching a 15-year high in April with 190 713 tourists visiting the islands. This is compared with 163 000 the previous year, according to the Ministry of Tourism.

Arrivals from Europe rose by 9% in January, with Italy, Germany and the UK making up 26.2% of total arrivals in the first quarter. Travellers from the US grew by 44% compared with the previous year.

European hotel chains are opening up to cater for the growing European marketing, with luxury Italian resort Chai, Baglioni, due to open its first property outside Europe in June. Mövenpick from Accor similarly welcomed guests to its first hotel in the Maldives last November.

April saw German-based Seaside Hotels & Resorts acquire Finolhu Maldives, a resort in Baa Atoll, for around $90m; while Hilton Worldwide Holdings’ Conrad Maldives Rangali Island resort was sold to American investment firm, Blackstone, in February.

Charlie MacIldowie, Vice President of the JLL Hotels & Hospitality Group, said: “European hoteliers see an opportunity to capitalise on the familiarity of their brands with these travellers and tour operators. We expect more of our European and American clients to enter the Maldives hospitality market in the next 12 months.”

Data from JLL estimates that over $450m worth of resort transactions have already been completed or are under way in the Maldives.

Global investors eye Maldives

The Maldives was traditionally dominated by Asian investors, however capital is making its way to the islands from Europe and the US. Over the past six months, capital investments from these sources, representing $300m, were recorded, compared with the annual average deal volume of $120m per annum.

The tightening of yields in core global markets, particularly Europe, is due to see demand remain high as investors look further afield for higher-yielding opportunities, says Nihat Ercan, Head of Investment Sales, Asia, JLL Hotels & Hospitality Group.

“Our clients outside of Asia are starting to show increasing interest in the Maldives, given its reputation as a sought-after tourist destination,” concludes Ercan.