Joint Meeting of the Two Commissions in Asia Pacific and UNWTO Regional Ministerial Conference

UNWTO

The 27th Joint Meeting of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Commission for East Asia and the Pacific (CAP) and the UNWTO Commission for South Asia (CSA)& UNWTO Regional Ministerial Conference on Positioning Tourism in a Wider Socio-Economic Contextwas hosted in Maldives from 3rd-4th June 2015, at Bandos Island Resort& Spa, Maldives. Countries from East Asia and South Asia were represented in the commission meeting, with affiliated members and numerous international organizations.

The Opening Ceremony held on 3rd June 2015 at Bandos Island Resorts & Spa, was enhancedby the presence of His Excellency President Abdul Yameen Abdul Gayoomas the Guest of Honor, and comprisedof some very special and important events for the Maldives tourism industry. This includes the Visit Maldives 2016 Year Campaign being nationally launched by His Excellency Yameen Abdul Gayoom. This campaign is a destination marketing initiative by the Maldives Marketing & PR Corporation (MMPRC) with the objective of increasing tourist arrivals to the Maldives. This event was followed by the endorsement of the Open letter campaign by the Maldives, during the ceremony where the Dr. TalebRifai, Secretary General of UNWTO presented the open letter to His Excellency President Yameen Abdul Gayoom. This campaign is a joint effort by UNWTO and World Travel and Tourism Council (WTCC) to maximize travel and tourism’s contribution economic growth and development. By accepting this open letter, His Excellency endorsed this campaign geared towards encouraging world leaders to acknowledge tourism’s potential to generate growth, development and employment.

The Ministerial Conference on Positioning Tourism in a Wider Socio-Economic Context was held in conjunction with the Joint Commission meetings with two main objectives:

To take stock of the event to which UNWTO’s Open Letter initiative has achieved its main objective of advocating that countries duly recognize the socio-economic contribution of tourism to their national economies;
And to examine national policies that will engender strategies to ensure that the projected growth in tourism demand will translate into socio-economic benefits for non-tourism sectors of the Asia-Pacific economies.

Ministers of Tourism, Deputy Ministers and senior government officials discussed and debated the next steps in strengthening government awareness and support to enable advancement of the tourism sector. Stimulating discussions enabled open sharing of national and regional insights, experience and expertise from various tourism experts. The main focus of the Joint Commission Meeting and the Ministerial Conference was on the developments in the world tourism industry, remarks and milestones achieved by the tourism industry and also the challenges and obstacles faced by the industry and how to overcome those challenges were also discussed.

Honorable Minister of Tourism, Mr. Ahmed Adeeb Abdul Gafoor, hosted a special Gala Dinner on 3rd June, honoring and welcoming the delegates to the Maldives. Ministers, senior government officials, Maldivian tourism industry pioneers and a huge number of industry participants also attended the dinner and were part of this social function. A very significant ceremony also took place during the dinner, where Maldivian Industry leaders signed the Private Sector Commitment to Global Code of Ethics for Tourism (GCET) and the five prominent enterprises and associations signing this commitment included the Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI), Crown &Champa Resorts, Sun Island Resorts & Spa, Centara Hotels & Resorts Maldives and Canareef Resort Maldives. Private By signing this commitment they pledge their commitment to observe the principle of the Code; respecting human rights and cultural heritage, protecting the environment and vulnerable groups, working towards social inclusion, gender equality, and accessibility – that is, abiding by highest moral values that we as a society have accepted as fundamental in the 21st century.

The CAP-CSA Joint Commission meeting is UNWTO’s principal annual event in the Asia Pacific Region, and the meetings took place in Bandos Island Resort & Spa on 4th June 2015. The Joint Commission Meeting was chaired by Dr. Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State, Culture and Tourism, India and was co-chaired by Mr. Rolando Cañizal, Assistant Secretary of Tourism, of Philippines. Honorable Minister of Tourism, Mr. Ahmed Adeeb Abdul Gafoor lea the delegation from Maldives for the joint commission meeting. Key topics discussed during the meetings this year included UNWTO’s program of work for the region, Asia’s use of TripAdvisor as a source of consumer’s data and other statutory issues related to the UNWTO Asia-Pacific Member States.Mr. Mohamed Umar Maniki, Chairman of MATI, honoring the delegates and extending them to warm hospitality of Maldives, hosted a farewell dinner on the evening of 4th June at Bandos Island Resorts & Spa. The efforts of the chairman were complimented with participation from senior government officials and tourism industry leaders in this social gathering.

The events were concluded with a special technical tour organized by Ministry of Tourismfor the delegates on 5th June 2015, aimed at exposing the participants to the unique Maldivian tourism products and the Maldivian hospitality. The first half of this technical tour included a photo flight excursion, where the delegates took a tour of the Male’ atoll area in the Twin Otter seaplanes of Trans Maldivian Airways, flying over the pristine lagoons and islands of Maldives, taking a closer look at the scenic details enabling them to truly appreciate the beauty of the paradise on earth.This was followed by a high tea organized by Kuramathi Island Resort, where the locals where exposed to the outstanding Maldivian hospitality.

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