Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC/Visit Maldives) has shared the 50-year journey, milestones, and achievements of the Maldivian tourism industry with global media representatives during the ‘Maldives Media Meet’ hosted at WTM London 2022. This event was held at the ExCel London media centre on 8th November 2022.
The Maldives Media Meet was led by the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director (CEO & MD) of MMPRC, Mr Thoyyib Mohamed, joined by; Maldives Tourism Industry Pioneer, Mr Hussain Afeef; the High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Great Britain, and Ireland, H.E Dr Farah Faizal; and the Minister of Tourism of Maldives, H.E Dr Abdulla Mausoom. Attendants at the event consisted of representatives from the travel trade, media, and tourism-related organisations.
Attendees to the event were gifted a Maldivian Feyli (traditional sarong) upon arrival; a token of the Maldives’ culture and hospitality. An immersive storytelling session signifying the communal spirit and the unyielding hospitality inherent to the Maldives was presented to the attendants, from the “Communal Spirit” folklore story from Visit Maldives’ Tales of Maldives books. This riveting experience denoting that hospitality is one of the main reasons behind the success of the Maldives tourism industry. This was followed by a destination presentation, and then the opening statements by the panellists.
The spotlight of the media meet was on the success of the Maldives Tourism industry over the past 50 years and the evolution of destination marketing efforts by MMPRC, as Maldives mark the Golden Jubilee year since the inception of tourism in the country.
The opening remarks were made by Mr Hussain Afeef, one of the pioneers responsible for the introduction of Maldives tourism. He spoke at length, giving the attendants an industry perspective on the inception of tourism in the Maldives, and the key differences between then and now. “We took the first groups of tourists on excursions on sailboats. We had no telephones or fax machines, so we communicated via morse code. We had two flights a year coming into the country, bringing in a small group of tourists, that was our connection to the outside world. We had to play many roles, we wore many hats, we had to be tour guides, chefs, and everything in between for the tourists. It was a hard journey, but look how far we have come today.”
The Minister of Tourism spoke next, detailing the importance of sustainable tourism to an island nation such as ours. “Maldives believes Tourists of the Future are fast becoming the present, and expects destinations and service providers to be meaningfully committed to Sustainable Tourism Practices,” the Minister highlighted in his statement.
Next on the agenda, the High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Great Britain, and Ireland, H.E Dr Farah Faizal expounded on the long-standing bilateral ties between the Maldives and the UK, expressing her pride at how far the Maldives has come as a tourism destination. “As a diplomat, I am proud that the Maldives has established a global presence in the tourism sector, becoming a recognised brand worldwide. This has undoubtedly supported the strengthening of international relations on all fronts. Our holistic response to the pandemic has resulted in the tourism industry rebounding back to pre-pandemic levels. I am certain that this year’s WTM will showcase the outstanding degree of service our industry has to offer.”
Last but not least, CEO & MD Mr Thoyyib gave a brief overview on the evolution of destination marketing through the past five decades. “We may have begun marketing the destination by participating in a fair, but then we continued to market the destination, establish presence, in all platforms, utilising every type of tool that was at our disposal. No matter the target we reach, in the form of infrastructure development in the sector or arrivals, our work is never ending. And that’s what made us the leading destination in 2020 and 2021, and that is why we are amongst the nominees for 2022 leading destination as well. Perseverance, dedication, and relentless efforts in making sure we are always visible and on the top.”
The purpose of hosting this event was to connect with leading media representatives from the UK, one of our traditional top markets, as well as representatives from other global markets. MMPRC provided them with the most up-to-date information about the destination, its products, services, and unique experiences. Through this event, MMPRC promoted the Maldives as one of the most preferred holiday destinations for travellers from the UK and worldwide. They further promoted the future plans, sustainability initiatives, and marketing efforts for the coming year. MMPRC launched a special large-scale event to be hosted next year, the Visit Maldives Storytellers’ Conference 2023 at the Maldives Media Meet. The conference ended with a Q&A session, and one lucky attendee to the event won a complete set of the ‘Tales of Maldives’ books.