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‘Following the Equator’ festival in Maldives celebrates best of global tourism films



Second edition of the International Tourism Film Festival Maldives (ITFFM) has wrapped up with a celebration of the best films and documentaries showcasing some of the most beautiful tourism destinations in the world.

Organised by Sun Siyam Resorts in association with the International Committee of Tourism Film Festivals (CIFFT), the three-day festival took place at the award-winning The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi Maldives resort from September 6-8. Held under the theme, ‘Following the Equator’, the festival kicked off with a cocktail reception and live music at the beach, followed by a dinner. International film makers, celebrities and industry professionals in attendance witnessed the screening of several films submitted as part of the festival.

“This festival is all about bringing together people from different destinations to enjoy and appreciate the different tourism destinations around the world,” Sara Siyam, PR and Communications Executive at Sun Siyam Resorts and ITFFM Secretary General, said.

Ahmed Siyam Mohamed, the Chairman and Managing Director of Sun Siyam Resorts, attends the closing gala of ITFFM 2018. PHOTO/ FAYAZ MOOSA

The second night of the festival featured a special segment on fashion and lifestyle with the participation of local models and makeup artists. More entries were screened to the audience.

An eight-member jury evaluated the 200 plus entries received from around the world. ITFFM Founder Evgenia Boyankova, ITFFM General Secretary Sara Siyam, Managing Editor of Vibe Magazine Hussain Shiham, Sun Siyam Resorts’ Head of Marketing Fathimath Reena, RAFY NGO President Aishath Rafiyya, CIFFT Director Alexander V. Kammel, CIFFT General Secretary Hugo Marcos, and Director of FilmAT Festival Ewa Kotus judged the entries based on several parameters, including visual quality, sound quality, reaching the goals, informational value, outstanding approach and innovativeness.

“Before you start any project, you should understand your target audience. For example, a film that sounds boring to some may be perfect for your target audience. You have to make sure that elements familiar to your target audience are included in your film,” Alexander said, during an open forum held on the second day of the festival.

“Your objective should be to make the viewer say, ‘I want to go there’.”

The open forum held as part of ITFFM 2018. PHOTO/ FAYAZ MOOSA

After a rigorous judging process, the nominees and winners in each category were announced at a grand gala at the the magnificent beach of The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi Maldives resort. ‘Abu Dhabi – Your Extraordinary Story’ by Norman Bates won the coveted Grand Prix award as well as the Tourism Destination – Cities category. Other category winners include:

  • Dinner With Georgia: Tourism Destination – Countries
  • Fishing in Maldives: National Productions
  • Gastronomy of Valencia: Tourism Services
  • Hatta is Calling: Adventure Tourism
  • Cruises: Water/Ethnography
  • Dalmatia Ultra Trail: Environment & Eco-tourism
  • Love Summer: Hotels & Resorts
  • Spirit of Dubai: Cultural Tourism
  • The Route of Fate: Tourism Destination – Regions

Attendees at the closing gala of ITFFM 2018. PHOTO/ FAYAZ MOOSA

Just like the first edition in 2016, ITFFM 2018 brought together professionals, celebrities and guests from across the globe to share their passion for travelling and seeing the beauty of it, the love for art, tourism and sports.

This year’s edition witnessed celebrity figures including Chinese actors Dong Dong Xu and Terence Yin as well as British TV personality Lizzie Cundy. Social media influencers and travel bloggers from around the world along with Maldivian models and celebrities were also in attendance. The presence of top Chinese TV channel CCTV6 and well-known tourism journalists from France, Italy, Middle East and Russia, as well as the local travel media, which included Maldives Insider and Maldives TV made the festival more eventful.

Sun Siyam Resorts has a portfolio of boutique luxury resorts in the Maldives and neighbouring Sri Lanka: The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi Maldives, Olhuveli Beach and Spa Maldives, Sun Aqua Vilu Reef, and the Sun Aqua Pasikudah in Sri Lanka as well as the upcoming Sun Aqua Iru Veli in the Maldives.


Maldives celebrates arrival of 2024’s 1 millionth tourist



Maldives on Thursday welcomed the one millionth tourist to visit this year.

The one millionth tourist is a Thai named Sutapa Amonwivat, who arrived from Singapore with her husband and two children. This is her second visit to Maldives.

Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) and the Ministry of Tourism gave a warm welcome to Sutapa at the Velana International Airport (VIA) Thursday afternoon. She was welcomed at the VIA by tourism minister Ibrahim Faisal, MMPRC Managing Director Ibrahim Shiury and senior officials of various relevant agencies.

After welcoming her with traditional offerings, she was presented with various gifts by the ministry, MMPRC, customs, immigration, Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO) and Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA).

Maldives reached one million tourists in June, three weeks earlier than last year. The number of tourists reached one million on July 16, 2023.

Maldives expects to reach 2 million tourists this year.

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New air route connects Chongqing to Maldives



Chongqing Airlines on Monday began its inaugural flights to Maldives.

The Chongqing-Male route, scheduled three times a week, is expected to strengthen the bonds between China and the Maldives, opening up exciting new opportunities for tourism and cultural exchange.

The inaugural flight was welcomed upon its arrival at Velana International Airport (VIA) in Maldives, where local officials and tourism representatives expressed their enthusiasm for this new development.

“We warmly welcome our friends from China to our beautiful islands. This new connection strengthens our bonds and opens up new opportunities for tourism,” the tourism ministry said on X.

Maldives currently welcomes four airlines from China, including China Eastern, Beijing Capital Airlines, Xiamen Airlines.

In January, Maldives government urged tourism stakeholders in both Maldives and China to ramp up efforts to restore China’s position as the primary source market for Maldives tourism, a status held before the onset of Covid-19.

China, being the largest source market for Maldives tourism before the pandemic, saw a resumption of tourist arrivals from January 2023 after a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic. In 2023, the Maldives welcomed 187,118 Chinese tourists, marking a significant recovery in numbers. This year, the Maldives has welcomed the most number of tourists from China, with over 107,940 or 11.5 percent of total arrivals by June 12. 

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CROSSROADS Maldives Introduces Weixin Pay at resorts for seamless guest experience



CROSSROADS Maldives has introduced WeChat Pay, widely known as Weixin Pay in China, across its world-class resorts, SAii Lagoon Maldives, Curio Collection by Hilton, and Hard Rock Hotel Maldives. This payment option is made available to enhance the convenience and overall experience for guests from China, making their stay in the Maldives more enjoyable and hassle-free.

Understanding the needs of the diverse guests, CROSSROADS Maldives has integrated WeChat Pay into operations, allowing guests from China to easily and securely conduct transactions using a payment method familiar to them. The introduction of WeChat Pay is a testament to CROSSROADS Maldives’ dedication to enhancing guest satisfaction by offering exceptional experiences at every turn. What is also expected through this initiative is that the guests could benefit from better foreign exchange rates, translating to better savings on their expenditures during their stay.

The option is available for guests in-house conveniently at both resorts as well as across the Marina at CROSSROADS Maldives where a wider variety of unparalleled dining and retail experiences are available for all guests. The day visitors from China will also therefore equally benefit from this new introduction at the Maldives’ premier multi-island integrated leisure destination.

SAii Lagoon Maldives, Curio Collection by Hilton, is a vibrant tropical escape that offers unique and locally inspired experiences. The resort features spacious rooms and villas, a variety of dining options, and an array of recreational activities designed to cater to the desires of modern travellers. Guests can escape to the island’s SAiisational natural beauty, enjoy water sports, and indulge in spa treatments, all while relishing the personalised service that defines Hilton’s Curio Collection.

Hard Rock Hotel Maldives brings the iconic Hard Rock spirit to the tranquil shores of the Maldives. This family-friendly resort offers a perfect blend of relaxation and entertainment, featuring music-inspired experiences, live performances, and the brand’s signature amenities. With luxurious accommodations, diverse dining options, and a plethora of activities for all ages, Hard Rock Hotel Maldives ensures an unforgettable holiday experience for every guest.

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