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Nominee evaluations for SATA 2018 begins

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Evaluation of nominees for South Asian Travel Awards (SATA) 2018 kicked off on Tuesday.

In a statement, organiser Highrise said a panel of multi national experts will be evaluating the Maldives based nominees from Tuesday to Sunday at Mookai Hotel in capital Male. The jury is based on the number of nominees from major participating destinations, and includes Amal Goonetilleke, Rinku Madan and Hinna Khalid, it added.

“They are chosen on the basis of their entrepreneurial experience, their achievements and their commitment to supporting and knowledge about the tourism and service industry. They play a key role in reviewing the nominees and selecting the finalists during the Awards competition,” the statement read.

“The jury members then give feedback through an online system designed for evaluation process with individual login.”

Amal Goonetilleke

With over three decades of experience in the field of tourism and hospitality, Amal specialises in sales and marketing for hotels and resorts. Presently a marketing consultant for hospitality companies with local and international affiliations, she is well versed in multiple disciplines of sales and marketing across global markets and segments such as corporate, MICE, leisure, and revenue management.

She is recognised as one of the leaders in hospitality focused sales and marketing in her native Sri Lanka. She held the position of Vice President at The Hotels Association of Sri Lanka, Vice President at Colombo City Hotels Association and Chairperson at PATA Sri Lanka Chapter, and was a Board Member of the Sri Lanka Promotions Bureau.

In recognition of her contribution to the industry, she was awarded the Zonta Woman of Achievement Award for Tourism in 2009 and Women in Management – Tourism Gold Award in 2015.

Rinku Madan

Rinku recently completed her studies in Global Journalism at Harvard University, with the objective of pursuing her writing skills in the area of global luxury travel. She had earlier studied at the French Culinary Institute in the area of food writing. Having worked with luminaries like Alan Richman and Andrew Fischer, she is amongst the very few certified food writers in India with a global experience.

Her penchant for understanding food and other finer aspects of life commenced more than a decade ago, as the chef at a seven-star members-only restaurant.  This was followed by her stint as the Editor of Times Nightlife Guide. She further honed her journalism skills through weekly columns at The Economic Times and The Sunday Times, and with leading business and general dailies in the Times Group fold and the BBC Good Food Guide. She was also a producer at the CNN International Bureau, New Delhi for a brief period.

Rinku’s experience in writing feature articles on food, restaurants, cuisines and luxury properties enhanced her skills, and enabled her to pursue luxury as a focus area, not only as a writer but also as a food stylist and consultant in the field of food and beverage.

Hinna Khalid

Hinna is a professional consultant, researcher, lecturer and writer who has contributed immensely to educating and empowering people. She has completed a Masters in Arts in Applied Social Research at University of West of England, a Post Graduate Diploma in Social Science Research Methods at University of Bristol, and a Post Graduate Diploma in PHC Management at Mahidol University. She is now a Doctoral Student of Philosophy at Management and Science University, Malaysia (MSU).

She has over 25 years of experience in administration, having worked at policy level and managing institutions. Her experience includes collaboration and working with UNDP, WHO, ROSA, UNICEF, IMF and World Bank representatives and several other stakeholders.

Hinna has made contributions to policy dialogues for the Ministry of Gender, Ministry of Home affairs, Male City Council. She had previously headed the Vice Presidential Secretariat, and had also served as the focal point for Commonwealth’s decentralisation and regionalisation projects in Maldives.

According to Highrise, evaluations will be held in six cities, including Male, Colombo, Bangalore, New Delhi, Kathmandu and Paro. During the evaluation, each property has to do a presentation of 10 minutes before a panel consisting of multi-national judges, it said.

Nominations for the third edition of SATA, which consists of 36 categories in 10 segments, closed in April with a record 500 plus nominations.

Jumeirah, Soneva, Sun Siyam Resorts, Coco Collection, Villa Hotels, The Kingsbury, Amaya Hotels and Resorts, Adaaran Resorts Maldives, Heritance Hotels, Jetwing Hotels, Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts, Marriott and Taj Hotels are some of the well-known brands that have been nominated for the awards.

Online voting is ongoing, and will be carried out via the official website till June 30.

SATA 2018 gala is scheduled to take place in India’s commercial capital Mumbai from September 14-15.

Launched in 2016 by Maldives based event management company Highrise, SATA has been endorsed by regional tourism authorities and organisations, including the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Sri Lanka (FCCISL), Colombo Chamber of Commerce (CCC), Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC), Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO), Confederation of Associated Tour Operators (India), Association of Travel Agents (ATA) Maldives, Association of Travel and Tour Operators India (ATTOI), Association of Professionals in Tourism (APT, India), Kerala Hotel General Managers Club (KHGMC), Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) and Liveaboard Association of Maldives (LAM).

SATA is the first ever regional travel awards endorsed by multi national associations, providing the tourism sector of the South Asian region with recognition towards their facilities and service excellence. It aims to encourage and raise service standards in the region’s tourism industry.

The awards’ first edition, which wrapped up with a gala ceremony at the iconic Mount Lavinia Hotel in Sri Lanka, saw an overwhelming support with more than 260 nominations. Major travel media organisations, including Maldives Insider, Asian Traveller, Asian Geographic, Asian Diver and Floating Asia were appointed as media partners of SATA 2016.

More than 414 nominations from the Maldives, India, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Nepal were received for the 39 categories included in the 2017 edition of SATA, which took place at the southernmost Maldives atoll of Addu in October.

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Pulse Hotels & Resorts unveils new residential project: The Coral Residences, Kandima

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Pulse Hotels & Resorts, one of the leading innovators in Maldives tourism, has introduced The Coral Residences, Kandima. Nestled on the northern end of the lush and green three-kilometre-long Kandima Integrated Island Resort in Dhaalu Atoll, this residential development is a first of its kind and promises to redefine luxury living in the Maldives.

Designed and crafted with meticulous attention to detail, The Coral Residences, Kandima, is a unique, integrated beachfront residential community with exceptional 5-star service, situated in the shimmering blue heart of the Maldives.

The Coral Residences comprises of 40 exquisitely designed two bedroom and three bedroom apartments. All apartments feature contemporary design and chic interiors, high-end finishes, state-of-the-art appliances, and unobstructed panoramic sea views across the Indian Ocean. Residence owners will enjoy exclusive access to a host of premium facilities, including a private beachfront pool, a gourmet restaurant and bar, dedicated fitness and recreation facilities and a 24-hour concierge service.

Buyers of The Coral Residences will be able to own their apartments under the new strata title ownership program. Owners’ apartments will be part a rental program, managed by Pulse Hotels & Resorts. Residents will have the access to the full range Kandima’s 5-star resort services, including its restaurants and bars, spa, recreation, and other amenities to complement their lifestyle. With its emphasis on comfort, convenience, and community, this development offers a truly elevated living experience.

“We are thrilled to introduce The Coral Residences, Kandima, to discerning local and international buyers,” said Sanjay Maniku, Managing Director of Pulse Hotels & Resorts. “With its unparalleled design and amenities, homeowners can take advantage of a limitless world of activities and experiences on offer at Kandima. We believe this development will set a new standard for luxury living in the Maldives, as well as bringing a new definition to the Maldives family vacation.”

The Coral Residences is realised by Pulse Hotels & Resorts, the creators behind The Nautilus Maldives, Kandima Maldives, and Nova Maldives. Known for their innovative hospitality concepts, Pulse Hotels & Resorts ensures that each property offers exceptional experiences and world-class service. The development has commenced and is expected to complete within Q3, 2025.

For more information, high-resolution images, and to schedule a private viewing, please contact Aishath Ihuma, Director of Business Development at +960 7788986 or aishath.ihuma@coralresidencesmaldives.com.

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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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