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MATATO opens bidding to host Maldives Travel Awards



Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO) has opened bidding to host the gala ceremony of Maldives Travel Awards 2017.

The bidding was opened at the ITB Berlin fair that concluded last month. MATATO said more information and bid documents would be available from the organisation’s secretariat, located on the first floor of H. Reef View in capital Male.

Initiated in 2012 by MATATO, Maldives Travel Awards celebrate and honour the best tourism and hospitality products in Maldives, and foster relationships with suppliers and local travel agents.

In the past, the gala night has been hosted in some of the scenic resorts in the Maldives such as Paradise Island Resort, Coco Boduhithi, Olhuveli Beach Resort and Kurumba Maldives. Its international edition took place in at Dusit Thani Dubai.

The association has earlier announced plans to branch out the awards into three editions this year. They are:

  1. People’s Edition: The Maldives Travel People’s Award Edition will be hosted at the gala night for Travel Trade Maldives ( TTM) in July. It is aimed at recognising successful pioneers and long serving individuals in the travel industry of Maldives.
  2. Guesthouse Edition: This edition will be introduced this year to celebrate the outstanding performance of the guesthouse sector. Winners of the 15 categories will be announced at the closing evening for the Guesthouse Conference, organised by Maldives Getaways and scheduled for September.
  3. Grand Gala Night: This is the premier event of the Maldives travel industry and is a continuation of the past. It will be exclusive for winners in the categories for resorts, airlines and liveaboards. It will be hosted in one of the country’ leading resorts in November or October.

This year, MATATO plans to combine the grand gala with the travel conference happening a day before the awards, bringing an international audience of industry experts to these events. MATATO also signed an agreement last year with Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), the largest travel organisation in the region, to have MATATO events supported and endorsed by PATA.

In 2016, the awards saw unprecedented judging transparency with a service agreement signed with KPMG to tally the final results.

Some of the travel trade fairs participated by MATATO such as SATTE New Delhi, BITB New Delhi, MATTA Malaysia, MAKTA Finland, PATA Mart Jakarta, Riyadh Fair, Luxury Leisure Moscow have been used to promote these awards and its winners. Several other fairs attended by the state owned tourism promotion company Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) such as ITB Berlin, WTM London and ATM Dubai were also used by MATATO to promote the winners.


BBM’s masterclass with acclaimed chef Bruno Menard attracts over 100 chefs



Bestbuy Maldives (BBM), a prominent supplier of high-quality food and beverage products in the Maldives, hosted another exciting edition of their highly anticipated Masterclass series on Saturday.

The day-long masterclass held at Kurumba Maldives featured the exceptional skills and expertise of renowned three-starred Michelin chef Bruno Menard.

The event was an exclusive affair, limited to invited guests. Over 100 chefs from 30 institutions registered for the event, showing the popularity of the series with practicing and aspiring chefs in the country.

BBM’s Masterclass series is an initiative that aims to promote culinary excellence and bring together professional and aspiring chefs in the Maldives community. Working in collaboration with renowned international brands like IREKS and Caffé Vergnano, BBM invites distinguished chefs from the Maldives’ resorts to learn from globally recognised culinary masters.

Menard is a well-respected figure in the culinary world, with an impressive career spanning over 38 years. With 24 years of experience in Asia and 15 years in Europe, Bruno has established a reputation for his innovative and creative cooking techniques. His culinary prowess has been acknowledged with three prestigious Michelin stars, placing him among the world’s greatest chefs. Adding to his accomplishments, he has also served as a judge on Master Chef Asia.

During the Masterclass event, Menard captivated the audience by showcasing the preparation of a delightful full-course meal. The Masterclass was divided into two sessions: the morning session focusing on hot applications (Karan Beef) and the post-lunch session showcasing desserts (Veliche).

“We are thrilled to have hosted Chef Bruno Menard for our Masterclass series. The event was a great success, and we received positive feedback from the participants. We believe that events like these will help elevate the culinary industry and local talents in the Maldives, and we look forward to hosting more events in the future,” said AVS Subrahmanyam, Chief Operating Officer of Bestbuy Maldives.

BBM demonstrated its commitment to supporting local talent by reserving 30% of the seats for Maldivian chefs. Additionally, they reserved 10 seats exclusively for students from the Faculty of Hospitality Studies (FHTS) at Maldives National University (MNU), providing them a unique learning opportunity.

Speaking at the opening of the event, Chef Guild of Maldives Exco Member Aminath Shaanee highlighted BBM’s support to the Maldivian team of six young chefs who made their debut in the Alen Thong Golden Coffee Pot Challenge 2023 and achieved an impressive bronze medal earlier this year

Competing against teams from eight other countries, the Maldivian team showcased exceptional talent, creativity, and precision, earning well-deserved recognition for their culinary skills. This marked the first participation of the Maldives in the prestigious competition held at the Emirates Salon Culinaire in Sharjah, UAE.

BBM’s Masterclass series has become highly anticipated within the Maldivian culinary community. It serves as a platform for chefs to enhance their skills, establish valuable connections with industry experts, and draw inspiration from culinary luminaries like Menard.

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JOALI festive donation continues to support vital projects in Maldives



Over the past year and a half, multiple institutions and nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) working in Raa Atoll, Maldives, have received vital funding from JOALI, the renowned luxury lifestyle and hospitality brand with two award-winning properties in the region.

JOALI Maldives, the brand’s art-immersive luxury resort in Raa Atoll, carries out an annual festive fundraiser with guests and hosts donating funds for worthy causes. Over the 2021-22 festive period, funds were raised as part of a collaborative art project, with guests joining the resort’s resident artist to glaze ceramic fish, each with a unique personal flair. The final artwork was a striking composition of all the individual fishes, swimming joyfully in unison – a powerful symbol of collaboration.

“This initiative is part of JOALI’s broader efforts around the ‘joy of caring’. Each aspect of our culture and strategy is designed to reflect responsible luxury,” says Enver Arslan, General Manager of JOALI Maldives. “We cherish the positive impact we have been able to create during our time in the Maldives.”

Supporting Impactful Local Projects

The funds raised over the 2021-22 festive period by JOALI were donated to three NGOs working in the Maldives, with the aim of supporting several crucial initiatives:

  • Olive Ridley Project: focused on protecting sea turtles and their habitats in Raa Atoll through rescue and rehabilitation, scientific research, education and outreach.
  • Women in Tech Maldives: aimed at promoting, empowering and celebrating women in science and technology.
  • Zero Waste Maldives: working to promote sustainability and reduce environmental impact across the archipelago.

The above projects are being managed collectively by JOALI Maldives and its sister property JOALI BEING, the brand’s wellbeing island, also situated in Raa Atoll.

Creating Real Change

Utilising the JOALI Festive Donation, Women in Tech Maldives conducted the #CodeforClimateMV project at the Raa Atoll School in Raa Dhuvaafaru. This programme trained 18 girls in coding skills, including Python and Machine Learning. The project concluded in September 2022.

In October 2022, Zero Waste Maldives used the funds to launch the ongoing #FehiFathi project in Raa Ungoofaaru. The organisation is working with the Ungoofaaru Women’s Development Committee to reduce the amount of fabric waste that ends up in landfills by rescuing clothes that can be used second-hand or upcycled. This initiative also empowers local seamstresses by providing them with an entrepreneurial opportunity. Over 15 local seamstresses are involved in the project.

Another Milestone in the Making

May 24, 2023 marked the start of an exciting new phase enabled by the JOALI Festive Donation. The Olive Ridley Project is set to begin a two-week community tour around Raa Atoll, focused on raising awareness around sea turtle conservation. A team of marine biologists from JOALI and the Olive Ridley Project, as well as educational officers from the Olive Ridley Project, will conduct multi-stakeholder awareness sessions at six islands in Raa Atoll, namely Madduvari, Meedhoo, Kinolhas, Fainu, Inguraidhoo and Vandhoo.

The expert team will visit local schools, councils, women’s development committees, fishermen, and other community groups with the aim of increasing environmental literacy and providing residents with the knowledge and skills they need to actively participate in the protection and improvement of their local habitats.

The Olive Ridley Project believes that education is a powerful tool to build awareness and engage people – especially young people – and thereby stimulate action at the local, international and policy levels.

This belief is strongly shared by JOALI. “Our team views knowledge-sharing and local empowerment as critical avenues to preserving the incomparable natural legacy of the Maldives,” says Özgür Cengiz, General Manager of JOALI BEING.

Funds from JOALI will continue to support the community outreach programme, with multiple tours scheduled across the rest of the islands in Raa Atoll later this year.

In addition, JOALI BEING is set to open the doors of its new Olive Ridley Turtle Rehabilitation Centre soon. At this purpose-built venue, rescued sea turtles will be nursed back to health by the island’s resident sea turtle biologist. The centre will also function as a hub for turtle-focused research efforts in the area.

A Brand Rooted in Local Community

Sustainability in Raa Atoll is a key focus area for JOALI, with a focus on safeguarding the planet, fostering wellbeing, creating platforms for women, and nurturing ethical consumption. In 2023, the brand launched the JOALI Sustainability Fund to provide funding for 10 local projects that align with its focus areas. The grant will award funds to the first five projects in June 2023.

Since its arrival in the Maldives, JOALI has demonstrated its commitment to the local community in a variety of meaningful ways. The team has partnered with Maldivian organisations to aid the training of girls in local schools; provide hospitality internships for aspiring candidates; and conduct virtual educational sessions for local university students.

Both JOALI BEING and JOALI Maldives also host regular school visits, enabling local students to see luxury hospitality in action and learn first-hand about job opportunities in the industry. The goal is to ensure that every school in Raa Atoll receives this opportunity at least once a year.

For further details and booking, please visit

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Coca-Cola Foundation, MOPA launch first-of-its-kind Material Recovery Facility in Maldives



The Coca-Cola Foundation and Maldives Ocean Plastics Alliance (MOPA) are pleased to announce the inauguration of the first-ever Material Recovery Facility (MRF) in Maldives, a pioneering project with the collective effort of various partners, including island councils, NGOs, and resorts. This shared commitment to PET collection, recycling, and building a circular economy around packaging, aligns with the global call to #BeatPlasticPollution, the theme of this year’s World Environment Day 2023. This movement highlights the urgent need for global solutions to combat plastic pollution.

The MRF’s launch on World Environment Day, June 5, 2023, is especially significant as it is a tangible response to this year’s environmental call to action. A ceremony was held at the site to commemorate this landmark achievement, with Ahmed Gais, Deputy Managing Director of Urbanco, gracing the event as chief guest.

MRFs are pivotal in managing solid waste, processing recyclable materials like PET plastic, and selling them as raw materials for the creation of new products. They are integral in establishing a circular economy, curbing waste and pollution, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and extending the useful life of recyclable and versatile materials like PET. MRFs also encourage the creation of secondary industries such as waste collection, and generating employment opportunities for the community.

The MOPA MRF, designed to collect, sort, bale and export PET plastic waste for recycling, stands as a testament to the concerted efforts of its partners. The Coca-Cola Foundation provided USD 150,000 in funding to establish and operationalise the MRF.

Situated in Hulhumale Phase 2, the MRF is equipped with a baler machine, transport pick-up, weighing and measuring system, and a fork lift, and has a storage facility to hold baled plastic.

“Our mission is to make a difference in communities around the world by investing in transformative ideas and institutions that address pressing global challenges. The inauguration of this facility is a significant milestone in the Maldives’ sustainability efforts,” Saadia Madsbjerg, President at The Coca-Cola Foundation, said.

“We are grateful to the government of Maldives and Urbanco for providing the space to build this facility, adding momentum to the critical dialogue we have initiated with the government on potential avenues for further collaboration in creating a circular economy around PET packaging.”

Echoing these sentiments, Ahmed Athif, Managing Director of Urbanco, added, “We are excited to be part of this ground-breaking initiative that sets a new standard for waste management in Maldives. This facility will not only help reduce plastic pollution but also create new economic and livelihood opportunities for our communities.”

The partnership with MOPA is The Coca-Cola Foundation’s maiden grant in the Maldives, to bolster efforts to effectively tackle plastic pollution and create a circular economy in Maldives.

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