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

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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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Weixin Pay supported to boost Chinese tourists to Maldives

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On May 27, Zihuny Rasheed, Deputy Managing Director of Maldives Marketing and PR Corporation (MMPRC/Visit Maldives), and Etienne Ng, Weixin Pay’s Country Manager, Singapore and Regional Director, Southeast Asia, WeChat Pay, signed a three-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) during ITB China 2024, pledging to support more Maldivian merchants to accept WeixinPay to provide Chinese tourists with a convenient payment experience. Visit Maldives is the Official Destination Partner for this year’s edition of ITB China.

“China is a key source of tourists for the Maldives, and we greatly value the experience of Chinese visitors,” said DMD Zihuny Rasheed. “We plan on promoting the acceptance of Weixin Pay throughout the country, offering Chinese tourists the payment option they are familiar with and prefer. I have used Weixin Pay during my visit to China via linking an international card, and I can attest to the convenience of the mobile payment option.”

Ibrahim Faisal, Minister of Tourism of the Maldives, expressed his support, “Excited that we’re introducing Weixin Pay for Chinese visitors, which is another step in establishing Maldives as their top destination. Now, it’s easier than ever for Chinese travellers to enjoy their stay, hassle-free. We look forward to further enhancing their experience,” he wrote.

According to Etienne Ng, Weixin Pay is currently being piloted at the country’s airport duty-free store, as well as in popular restaurants like Sala Thai and City Garden. Additionally, a range of hotels and resorts are participating including, JEN Maldives Malé by Shangri-La, Adaaran Select HudhuranFushi, Adaaran Club Rannalhi, Adaaran Prestige Vadoo, Adaaran Prestige Water Villas, Velaa Private Island, Cheval Blanc Randheli Private Island, Dhawa Ihuru Maldives, Ayada Maldives, Marriott Bonvoy, Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island and Angsana Velavaru in Maldives with strong support from the Bank of Maldives and local merchants. Making smooth progress, the initiative is expected to have 8,000 merchants nationwide that integrate the payment option.

“Weixin Pay is committed to providing users with safe and convenient payment services. Since the visa exemption policy was implemented, more and more Weixin Pay users have chosen to travel to the island country. Through our cooperation with Visit Maldives, we aim to provide Chinese users with the same convenient experience in the travel as they experience at home,” he said.

In February 2023, an Agreement on Mutual Exemption of Visa Requirements signed between the Maldives and China took effect as China expands its visa-free policy to benefit more countries. Consequently, the Maldives has consistently ranked among the top overseas destinations for Chinese tourists during popular travel periods such as the May Day and National Day holidays.

According to data from Visit Maldives, the country welcomed over 1.8 million tourists in 2023, a new national record. The Chinese market has been a key source market for the Maldives. As of 11th May 2024, it is the number one source market with 91,073 tourist arrivals.

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Indian influencer Niki Mehra in Maldives

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Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC/ Visit Maldives) hosted a familiarisation trip with Amilla Maldives for high-end influencer, Niki Mehra, from India to experience the luxury and romantic offerings of the Maldives from 3rd – 6th May 2024.

The familiarisation trip was a great opportunity to Niki Mehra, a renowned Indian model, fashion, beauty and travel content creator and social media influencer with over half a million followers who has carved a niche in the Indian fashion industry with her unique sense of style. During her time in the Sunny Side of Life, Niki Mehra showcased luxury to romantic experiences of the destination.

The trip promoted Maldives through social media platforms of Niki Mehra while highlighting experiential itinerary offerings of the Maldives. Additionally, the influencer trip assisted MMPRC in propelling growth in the luxury travel segment and honeymoon market by showcasing the Maldives as a premier honeymoon destination for the Indian travellers.

The Indian market has been a strong market for the Maldives over the years, currently ranked number 6 with 46,970 tourists as of 13th May 2024. Additionally, MMPRC showcased the Maldives in OTM and SATTE held earlier this year. MMPRC is committed to boosting the arrivals from the market and has exciting marketing activities planned for future, including joint campaigns, familiarisation trips, participation in major events and other campaigns which provides numerous opportunities to showcase the breathtaking Maldives to the market, attracting more Indian travellers.

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130 hotels in The Prestige Collection with 4 Maldives properties

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The Prestige Collection has reached 130 hotels in its portfolio, continuing to uphold quality and excellence as core pillars. It represents the most exclusive selection within Keytel, the world’s first alliance of independent hotels.

Since its establishment in 2007, The Prestige Collection has been dedicated to meeting the growing demand for luxury hotels, becoming a reference for hospitality industry specialists. Despite its focus on independent hotels, the collection has successfully attracted prestigious properties from international luxury chains such as Rosewood Villa Magna, Mandarín Oriental Ritz Madrid, and Fairmont Mayakoba in Riviera Maya. These hotels view The Prestige Collection as a complement to their commercial strategy for attracting luxury clientele.

With a prominent presence both nationally and internationally across 36 countries, The Prestige Collection shines in with four distinguished resorts: Baglioni Resort Maldives, Diamonds Athuruga Maldives Resort & Spa, Diamonds Thudufushi Maldives Resort & Spa, and Hideaway Beach Resort & Spa. Internationally, the collection boasts emblematic properties like Armani Dubai, Café Royal in London, The Pierre in New York, and Kappa Senses in Ubud, Bali, among others.

The collection categorises hotels into four distinctive categories, highlighting ideal places to disconnect, properties in vibrant urban settings, coastal options for those seeking serenity, and unique experiences for those seeking singularity.

Furthermore, this milestone coincides with the relaunch of its new experiential website platform. This platform offers users and industry professionals the opportunity to explore the collection in greater detail and drives qualified traffic to the official websites of member hotels.

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