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Maldives beats rival Indian Ocean destinations to defend prestigious World Travel Awards titles



Maldives and several of its properties on Saturday bagged the most prestigious awards at the Indian Ocean Gala Ceremony of the World Travel Awards, further cementing the island nation’s place as the most sought after holiday destination in the world.

The prestigious Indian Ocean Gala Ceremony took place at the five-star Sun Aqua Vilu Reef resort, with hospitality leaders from across the region in attendance to discover who amongst them has been voted the pinnacle of the travel industry.

At the ceremony, the Maldives once again beat rival Indian Ocean destinations, including Seychelles, Madagascar, Mauritius and Reunion Islands, to defend the awards for Indian Ocean’s Leading Beach Destination, Indian Ocean’s Leading Destination and Indian Ocean’s Leading Dive Destination.

With the latest win, the Maldives has secured the Indian Ocean’s Leading Destination award for the 11th time, Indian Ocean’s Leading Beach Destination for the fifth time and the Indian Ocean’s Leading Dive Destination for the third time.

The Maldives main Velana International Airport was named Indian Ocean’s Leading Airport for the 10th year, while Maldives-based resort brand Coco Collection won Indian Ocean’s Leading Boutique Hotel Brand award and Ace Travel Maldives won Indian Ocean’s Leading Destination Management Company award. Additionally, Trans Maldivian Airways, which operates the world’s largest seaplane fleet, was named Indian Ocean’s Leading Seaplane Operator, and Simply Maldives as Indian Ocean’s Leading Travel Agency.

Adil Moosa, Managing Director of the Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL), receives the Indian Ocean’s Leading Airport award at the World Travel Awards Indian Ocean Gala Ceremony held at the Sun Aqua Vilu Reef resort in Maldives on Saturday. PHOTO/ WORLD TRAVEL AWARDS

Individual properties in the Maldives were also big winners, including:

  • Indian Ocean’s Leading Dive Resort: Anantara Dhigu Maldives
  • Indian Ocean’s Leading Family Resort: The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi Maldives
  • Indian Ocean’s Leading Hotel: LUX* South Ari Atoll
  • Indian Ocean’s Leading Hotel Suite: Royal Island Suite at JA Manafaru
  • Indian Ocean’s Leading Leisure Hotel: Hulhule Island Hotel
  • Indian Ocean’s Leading Luxury Hotel Villa: The Royal Residence at Jumeirah Vittaveli
  • Indian Ocean’s Leading Luxury Island Resort and Indian Ocean’s Leading Luxury New Resort: The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort
  • Indian Ocean’s Leading Luxury Resort: Milaidhoo Maldives
  • Indian Ocean’s Leading Luxury Villa Resort: Velaa Private Island
  • Indian Ocean’s Leading Luxury Water Villa: Grand Water Villa at One&Only Reethi Rah
  • Indian Ocean’s Leading MICE Hotel: Kurumba Maldives
  • Indian Ocean’s Leading Private Island Resort: COMO Cocoa Island
  • Indian Ocean’s Leading Resort: Gili Lankanfushi
  • Indian Ocean’s Leading Water Villa Resort: Sun Aqua Vilu Reef
  • Indian Ocean’s Most Romantic Resort: Baros Maldives

Mohamed Musthafeez, Resort Manager at Baros Maldives, receives the Indian Ocean’s Most Romantic Resort award at the World Travel Awards Indian Ocean Gala Ceremony held at the Sun Aqua Vilu Reef resort in Maldives on Saturday. PHOTO/ WORLD TRAVEL AWARDS

Maldivian Idol hosts Moosa Waseem and Aminath Lamha Latheef – two of the most familiar faces on Maldivian television – compered the event, which also allowed attendees to get in touch with authentic Maldivian culture through traditional dances such as Bandiya and Maafathi. The main act for the evening was performed by leading Maldivian singer Unoosha.

World Travel Awards was established in 1993 to acknowledge, reward and celebrate excellence across all sectors of the tourism industry. Today, the World Travel Awards brand is recognised globally as the ultimate hallmark of quality, with winners setting the benchmark to which all others aspire.

Each year, World Travel Awards covers the globe with a series of regional gala ceremonies staged to recognise and celebrate individual and collective success within each key geographical region.

World Travel Awards Gala Ceremonies are widely regarded as the best networking opportunities in the travel industry, attended by government and industry leaders, luminaries and international print and broadcast media.


Weixin Pay supported to boost Chinese tourists to Maldives



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



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



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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