Managing Director of Maldives Integrated Tourism Development Corporation (MITDC), Mohamed Raaidh has participated, as a speaker, in the international webinar organized by Island Innovation, a leading consultancy and advisory firm based in the United States.
The webinar, held under the theme “Islands Responses to COVID-19”, boasted five international speakers who gave in depth information in different areas.
In addition to Mohamed Raaidh, Honourable Vittus Qujaukitsoq, Minister of Finance and Mineral Resources of Government of Greenland, Co-Director Dr. Francesco Sindico, University of Strathclyde, Dr. Daniel Trigg, President of Lanzarote Business and Residents Association, Ms. Tahirah Banks, Thoughtful Digital Agency, were speakers at the webinar.
In his speech, Mohamed Raaidh shed light on how COVID-19 would affect the Maldivian tourism landscape and the things that need to be done to recover and resume tourism.
Referring to local pandemic statistics, he forecast international and local air travel to resume in July 2020, however for tourist arrivals to begin only in November 2020. Noting that August, September and October were off-peak dates even under normal circumstances, Raaidh revealed that industry experts predict an adequate number of tourism arrivals between November to February. Bookings are already being made in resorts and especially guesthouses for the duration, he added.
He however advised caution for the “new normal” that would follow the COVID-19 pandemic, while detailing some highlights.
In his regard, Raaidh stressed on the importance of disseminating information about the natural beauty of Maldives via Virtual Reality (VR), the importance of opting for VR technologies that would allow people to experience the natural beauty of Maldives in their living rooms, rather than at crowded travel exhibitions and fairs; improving the quality of healthcare available in Maldivian resorts to include at least a doctor and a nurse along with resources to administer primary care for ailments such as COVID-19, providing room isolation facilities in resorts to some extent.
In addition to that Raaidh stressed on the need to establish quality healthcare in at least one island in every region, and improving the quality of healthcare along with resources to administer primary care for ailments such as COVID-19 without having to medevac patients to Malé and the establishment of a mechanism for health screening; introducing health visa or health insurance for visitors, while local tourism expands nationwide.
Raaidh also stressed on the importance of strengthening health-screening across the country’s domestic and international airports, installing resources such as sanitizer gates, and ensuring the availability of health-screening equipment in transportation used to ferry tourists from place to place. Noting that these are services that prospective tourists would demand in the future, Raaidh said that if the Maldivian tourism sector wishes to maintain its pace in the international arena, and to attain the trust and confidence of tourists, such changes shall prove mandatory.
Looking at issues and challenges resort-employees faced, Raaidh noted the importance of developing decent accommodation of employees in nearby islands where they can reside with their families, in resort development in the future. He added that instead of employees living in crowded quarters within the resort island, it is important to establish an environment where employees can live happily with their families. Raaidh also shed light on the importance of ensuring food security. Growing produce locally and integrating agriculture into tourism can be implemented through decentralization, he said.
In his speech, Raaidh emphasized the importance advertising the destination in line with the theme #loveyourlocal and prioritizing local businesses and local products in tourism. Referring to the slump that small scale businesses and freelancers are facing currently, Raaidh said that the pillars of sustainable development can be best achieved in a tourism model that sees development that incorporates local products and local businesses.
Island Innovation revealed that over 480 participants from across the world participated in the webinar. Island Innovation is an internationally acclaimed US based consultancy firm offering tailored services for businesses, governments and NGOs to advance innovation for sustainability and prosperity in islands worldwide.