The Fifth Tourism Master Plan - A primer

The vision for the Maldivian tourism industry is firmly centered around the principles of sustainable tourism, which the Ministry of Tourism has built upon through four essential pillars: workers, visitors, communities, and businesses.

In May 2023, the Ministry of Tourism (MoT) released the anticipated Fifth Tourism Master Plan (5TMP). This comprehensive plan is a pivotal document that chronicles the vision, policy priorities, and strategies that will shape the industry's trajectory over the forthcoming five-year period from 2023 to 2027. According to MoT, the formulation of this plan has been carried out with the support of the Asian Development Bank, alongside a team of expert consultants. To foster a consultative approach, the team engaged in more than 70 meetings with stakeholders and conducted numerous field visits.

Vision for Tourism

The vision for the Maldivian tourism industry is firmly centered around the principles of sustainable tourism, which the MoT has built upon through four essential pillars: workers, visitors, communities, and businesses. The plan has consistently demonstrated a strong commitment to addressing and meetings the needs of these key pillars.

Priority Goals

This master plan encompasses 15 priority goals, all aligned with the overarching vision of achieving sustainable tourism. Thus, in order to ensure effective implementation, each goal is accompanied by its own set of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and corresponding strategies.

These 15 goals are:

1.     Maximize the benefits of tourism to all atoll communities

2.     Communicate the full potential of Maldives to existing and new audiences

3.     Offer new products and experiences

4.     Build climate resilience and protect natural assets

5.     Enhance energy security and achieve net zero emissions

6.     Provide outstanding transport services

7.     Attract and retain a world-class tourism workforce

8.     Accelerate investment and innovative finance

9.     Regulatory reform to make it easier to do business

10.  Accelerate 360o digitisation

11.  Whole-of-government prioritization of tourism

12.  Advanced data analytics and insights

13.  Strengthen health, safety, and security systems

14.  Establish transformational tourism industry standards

15.  Ensure tourism is accessible to all

Sun, Sand, Sea and More!

While the report incorporates goals that have been included and revised from previous master plans, the inclusion of newer, promising strategies instills a sense of hope and excitement for the invigoration and continued development of the sector.

For instance, the creation of iconic atoll destinations will undoubtedly benefit the atolls and streamline their positioning. Take the case of Baa Atoll – the tourist establishments in the atoll are capitalizing on the biosphere reserve status and the exquisite nature in creating a compelling and distinctive tourism experience. Interestingly, this has also been trickled down to developing local island destination positioning as well.

Making Maldives a year-round destination is also a significant goal. This goal holds immense potential for the tourism industry, with far-reaching positive economic multiplier effects anticipated. By extending the tourism season beyond the traditional peak periods, the Maldives can harness its natural and cultural attractions throughout the year, resulting in increased tourist arrivals and heightened economic activity. The industry will likely become more robust and less susceptible to seasonal changes.

Another important endeavor is the development of MICE - meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions. This ingenuity is an important step to be taken in the diversification of the industry from simply selling our white sandy beaches for holidays. The ideas of barefoot conferences, Island Board Meetings, and corporate getaways are promising initiatives! Similarly, another niche that is planned to be developed is the promotion of Maldivian Cuisine through food festivals, TV competitions, and culinary programs for YouTube are all very exciting as well.

Under human capacity development, special consideration has been provided to women in the industry. The plights of women in the Tourism sector have been written by MFR in 2021’s article: Tourism needs more women. Therefore, the inclusion of ambitious strategies, such as offering child support to women in the industry and granting special scholarships, is an encouraging step forward. The plan also encompasses other skill and knowledge development goals, including internships and curriculum changes, which are currently being implemented.  Therefore, it is crucial to evaluate the effectiveness of such current policies and practices in place.

Furthermore, the emphasis placed on digitalization within the plan is evident through various initiatives. This includes the development of specialized applications and a focus on data analytics, demonstrating a strategic alignment with the evolving landscape of the industry  and the globalized world.

Lastly, among the array of infrastructure developments, it is promising to see improvements in Velana International Airport (VIA) prioritized. MFR delves into the challenges faced in this regard, emphasizing the urgency of these necessary changes in the article ‘High-end tourism destination and the 'Low-end' Airport’. These changes are absolutely essential since VIA is the biggest gateway to the Maldives.


A critical addition to the current plan would have been an update on the Fourth Tourism Master Plan (4TMP), delivering insights into the degree of goal attainment, the extent of their realization, and the goals that have been integrated into the Fifth Tourism Master Plan (5TMP). This information is essential to be able to fully comprehend and assess the success and impact of the 4TMP's but also enable policymakers and industry stakeholders to identify areas of improvement and build upon the achievements made in the previous plan.

Additionally, a discussion pertaining to some details regarding the implementation and evaluation of strategies in the 5TMP is also important to have a better understanding of the plan's operational framework. The provision of clarity on the methods, mechanisms, and timelines through which these strategies will be executed and assessed would foster transparency and accountability, while also instilling confidence in the effectiveness and efficiency of the plan's implementation. This comprehensive approach ensures that the 5TMP is not only a documented plan but also a practical roadmap for sustainable tourism development, underpinned by evidence-based decision-making and continuous evaluation.


This comprehensive plan encompasses a multitude of aspiring goals, from medium to long term. Many require significant financial investments, dedicated manpower, rigorous research, and substantial infrastructure development. The unveiling of this plan paints a promising future for the industry. We are hopeful that the implementation and evaluation of the strategies will remain steadfast, and that stakeholders are updated on the progress.

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