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Officials, stakeholders come together to explore sustainable development of Maldives guesthouse sector

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Officials and industry stakeholders came together on Saturday to discuss ways to develop the guesthouse industry in Maldives, as the government hosted the first ever national level gathering targeted towards the booming sector.

Held as part of the new government’s first 100-day pledges, the Maldives Guesthouse Symposium 2018 took place at the main convention centre of Dharubaaruge in capital Male. The one-day forum was attended by tourism minister Ali Waheed and top officials of relevant authorities along with representatives from 340 guesthouses located across the Maldives.

Themed as ‘Towards Sustainable Tourism’, the symposium saw four separate sessions, with the first being on the legal framework governing the operation of guesthouses. The second session focused on the relationship between tourism and local communities, whilst the third session explored destination marketing strategies for the guesthouse industry. The final session collected the experiences of guesthouse owners and operators.

Group discussions were also held during the symposium, where participants held discussions on three key topics: sustainable development of the guesthouse industry, development of support infrastructure, and marketing of guesthouses and related products.

Tourism minister Ali Waheed told journalists that the government had learned the challenges facing the industry. The concerns expressed by guesthouse owners and operators will be incorporated in the new strategic masterplan for tourism, which will be initiated within the first 100 days of the new government, he added.

“We will listen to the people. I’m thrilled to seen the high turnout for the symposium, especially during the peak tourist season. This shows the high expectations of the people,” the minister said.

Waheed stressed that tax laws need to be amended in order to boost local tourism. Decentralisation is also key to the development of the guesthouse industry, he said.

The symposium will wrap up at 8.30pm with a special function attended by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

The main objective of the symposium is to create a platform for guesthouse operators and relevant government authorities to come together and discuss issues and constraints, providing strategic directions for sustainable development of guesthouse sector, which support environmentally sensitive business operations, whilst protecting the cultural and natural heritage of the island in providing maximum economic and social benefits to the local people.

The symposium recognises the need for sustainable development of the rapidly growing guesthouse sector of the Maldives, as well as the government’s commitment to identify and address issues and challenges faced by guesthouse operators and island communities.

Maldives, known world over for its upmarket tourism industry, has resorts in the hundreds spread across the archipelago. The industry has in recent years expanded to introduce more affordable segments, including guesthouses and liveaboards. Some 500 guesthouses have started operations over the past five years as the number of travellers that choose to stay in guesthouses rise.

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Maldives celebrates arrival of 2024’s 1 millionth tourist

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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

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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

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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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