On the occasion of International Women’s Day, Travel Trade Maldives spoke with local women who are at the forefront of the Maldivian hospitality industry. Their contribution is magnitude in elevating the tourism experience, reshaping the industry for future leaders, and ensuring gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow.

Aishath Shiran is the Assistant Sales Manager at Universal Resorts. Universal Resorts is one of the leading resort groups in the country compromising of eight properties spread across the Maldivian archipelago. Our team sat down with her to delve deeper into her career, and the challenges she faced in her career.

1. Tell us a bit about yourself and how you started your career?

I began my career as an international telephone operator at Dhiraagu, a telecommunications business, when I was quite young, and was later promoted to Secretary to the Head of the Commercial Department.

My first job at Universal Resort was in the sales and marketing department in 2006, where my main responsibilities were familiarization tours and day-to-day tasks. I had the opportunity to travel and experience new things throughout this period. After three years, I chose to take a year and a half off and return to Universal Resorts as a part-time employee, as I was having trouble working long hours at the time.

As Assistant Sales Manager, I am now in charge of handling sales for Local Market, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Malaysia, as well as contracting. I am happy for the opportunity to work with some of the most amazing individuals at Universal Resorts and get more experience in the tourism industry.

2. What is your biggest personal achievement so far?

My greatest personal successes to date have been managing and balancing work and my roles as a mother, daughter, and housewife, but also recognizing that they are the driving force behind my ambitions.

3. What are the main challenges as a women entrepreneur in the tourism industry?

Personally, I find it difficult to see any significant hurdles in being a female entrepreneur. I’ve never felt treated differently at Universal Resorts than my male coworkers throughout the years. However, I feel that in order to motivate women, we need to provide equitable chances for women entrepreneurs in all industries, not only the tourist industry. As a result, more jobs are created for women, which helps to close the gender gap in the workforce.

4. Do you believe it’s simpler now to be a female hotelier than it was before? What has changed in the Maldivian tourism industry in recent years?

I believe there is more acceptance from the society for female workers especially in the Tourism industry when compared to previous years where girls were very hesitant to work in a resort or out of Male’ or their Islands.

The Maldivian tourism industry has changed dramatically in the last few years. It has evolved to become one of the fastest-growing sectors. There is no doubt that technology plays an important role in tourism and travel. Most of us are now used to booking our airline or Hotel reservations online. These technological advances have allowed empowering customers to make their own decisions. Also, we are observing a significant growth in a potential rise in tourist arrivals in large groups with families to the Maldives

This trend is on the rise especially now with the global situation that we’re experiencing right now. It is important to follow the current tourism trends in response to consumer behavior as this could become quite popular.

5. What do you think is the next big step to ensure gender equality in the country?

To empower women economically and financially, to provide equal chances, same pay, and equal educational possibilities for females, and to give women’s voices a voice.

6. What advice would you give to other female entrepreneurs?

Keep going! It is very important to have a positive mindset, step outside of your comfort zone and don’t be afraid to try something even if it hasn’t been done before, this will help you achieve success and allow you to push through challenges without letting them get you down.