Bollywood actress Urvashi Rautela in Maldives for Maldives Travel Awards Gala Edition

Bollywood actress Urvashi Rautela has arrived in the Maldives to attend the upcoming Maldives Travel Awards Gala Edition.

Urvashi arrived in the Maldives Wednesday morning, and was welcomed at the main Velana International Airport by top officials from organiser Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO) and host Adaaran Resorts Maldives.

Urvashi (C) is pictured with officials from MATATO and Adaaran Resorts Maldives after her arrival in the Maldives Wednesday morning. PHOTO/ MATATO

The actress-cum-model is staying at Adaaran Select Hudhuranfushi resort, where the Gala Edition is set to take place. She will be the guest of honour at the gala ceremony on Thursday evening.

Urvashi was crowned Miss Diva 2015, and represented India at the Miss Universe 2015 pageant.

The 23-year-old actress made her Bollywood debut in 2013 with the film, Singh Saab the Great, followed by critically acclaimed roles in Sanam Re and Great Grand Masti in 2016. She also starred alongside Hrithik Roshan in the 2017 movie Kaabil.

Urvashi (L) is pictured with Asra Naseem, the Deputy Secretary General of MATATO, after her arrival in the Maldives Wednesday morning. PHOTO/ MATATO

Meanwhile, MATATO is making final preparations for the Gala Edition.

Voting for the 230 properties nominated for the 25 categories in the awards closed on Tuesday with an overwhelming 100,000 plus votes.

Winners for the Gala Edition will be decided by a collective score based on traveller reviews on TripAdvisor and the popular vote. The winners will be announced at the gala ceremony to be held at  Adaaran Select Hudhuranfushi Thursday evening.

In addition to the main categories, MATATO will present five awards to recognise special areas of tourism development and sustainability.

MATATO will also combine the grand gala with the second edition of the Maldives Travel Conference, which is set to be held on Thursday at Bandos Maldives resort.

Adaaran Select Hudhuranfushi: Maldives Travel Awards Gala Edition will take place at the resort Thursday evening. PHOTO/ ADAARAN

Initiated in 2012 by MATATO, Maldives Travel Awards celebrate and honour the best tourism and hospitality products in the Maldives, while fostering relationships with suppliers and local travel agents. From 20 categories in 2012, the awards have now expanded into three editions totalling 55 categories.

This year, MATATO has for the first time branched out the prestigious awards into three categories; the People’s Edition, which recognises successful pioneers and long serving individuals in the tourism industry, a Guesthouse Edition, which celebrates the outstanding performance of the up and coming guesthouse sector, and the Grand Gala, which is exclusive for winners in the categories for resorts, airlines and liveaboards.

As the first event held under the Maldives Travel Awards brand, Adaaran Select Hudhuranfushi hosted the People’s Edition on July 13, where 10 individuals were recognised for their immense contributions to the development of the Maldives tourism industry.

The Guesthouse Edition, held in the island of Maafushi on October 30, expanded on the recognitions awarded to guesthouses by MATATO as part of the Maldives Travel Awards, and celebrated the outstanding performance of the guesthouse sector.

As MATATO brings in a rising Bollywood actress for the most anticipated travel event of the year, the Maldives has become a sought after destination by Bollywood stars.

A-list Bollywood stars who have visited the Maldives include Salman Khan, Hrithik Roshan, Alia Bhatt and Priyanka Chopra. Bollywood couples such as Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor have also spent their holidays in the Maldives, while Bollywood couple Arbaaz Khan and Malaika Arora Khan has declared the Maldives as their favourite holiday destination.

India has also become a major emerging source market for the Maldives tourism industry.

Official figures show that 66,955 tourists arrived in Maldives from its closest neighbour last year, a 27.9 percent increase from the 52,368 Indian travellers that chose the Maldives in 2015.

That growth has gathered steam this year, as the number of Indian tourists that visited the Maldives recorded a 25.4 percent increase in the past 10 months to reach 63,141 from 50,369 in the same period last year.

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