MATATO, Highrise launch Maldives Showcase to promote tourism, trade globally

Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO) has teamed up with leading local event management company Highrise to launch a new platform to promote the Maldives in the international arena.

At a ceremony held Sunday afternoon in capital Male, the Maldives Showcase platform was jointly inaugurated by MATATO Vice President Abdulla Suood and Highrise Director Ismail Hameed.

Ismail told the attendees that the annual event would focus on four major areas; tourism, trade, talent and taste. Maldives-based stakeholders and professionals from those sectors would have the opportunity to come together with their peers from the host country for networking sessions and other promotional activities, he added.

“MATATO actively participates in several international travel trade shows to promote the Maldives tourism industry. A brand of our own will build on that and give a much needed boost to our promotional activities,” Ismail said.

The first Maldives Showcase event would take place in neighbouring Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo in mid December. The event has been endorsed by the Maldives embassy in Colombo and the Colombo Chamber of Commerce.

“Colombo is a good place to start since it has traditionally been a hub of commerce and other links to the Maldives. But in the future, we will hold this event in other countries as well,” Ismail said.

MATATO President Abdulla Ghiyas said the annual platform was a culmination of ideas which stemmed from the Maldives Night series of events held by the government in Colombo in the late 1990s. As Maldives Night has now been moved to international tourism platforms such ITB Berlin, it is fitting that new efforts are made to promote the Maldives tourism and trade in the international arena, he added.

MATATO President Ghiyas speaks at the launching ceremony Sunday afternoon. PHOTO/ SUN.MV

Maldives Showcase, according to Ghiyas, will not only provide companies involved in the tourism industry an opportunity to showcase their products, but that local exporters, especially those involved in the fisheries industry, will also have similar opportunities to expand their business.

“In addition to resorts, guesthouses and local exporters as well as Sri Lankan exporters can participate in the event,” he said.

Sri Lanka, which is home to the largest diaspora of Maldivians, is a destination of choice amongst Maldivian leisure and businesses travellers alike. The neighbouring island nation also houses the regional offices of several companies with business interests in the Maldives.

MATATO, a non-profit representing local travel agents and tour operators, participates in several international travel trade shows every year. The organisation has participated in WTM Connect Asia in Malaysia, South Asia Travel and Trade Exhibition (SATTE), Bharat International Tourism Bazaar (BITB) and India International Travel Mart (IITM) Bangalore Edition in India, Australia International Dive Expo (AIDE) in Australia, MAKTA in Finalnd, PATA Mart in Indonesia and Riyadh Fair in Saudi Arabia.

Maldives recorded 1.2 million tourist arrivals in 2016 with a total of receipts around USD 2.5 billion. With the rapid changes in global travel markets, Maldives continues to strengthen its foothold as one of the leading tourist destinations in the world and is on course to achieving an ambitious target of 1.5 million tourist arrivals by the end of this year.

While tourism remains the leading economic activity in the country by far, fisheries has been a traditional contributor to the economy. New industries are also opening up due to a push by the government to diversify the economy in order to build resilience.

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