South Asian Travel Awards appoints intl jury for nominee evaluations

An international jury has been appointed for the evaluation of nominees for South Asian Travel Awards (SATA) 2019.

The four-member jury comprises:

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.

Sangeeta Rana

Sangeeta Rana is the Executive Director of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Bhutan. She has several years of experience in the hospitality and tourism industry. She is also the board member of various tourism and private sector development boards such as TDB, CTA, BSTS and HRDB. She is extremely enthusiastic and passionate about developing the tourism industry and to work closely with tourism stakeholders around the world. She represents the exotic country, Bhutan, which believes in “Gross National Happiness”.

Abdulla Suood

With more than 20 years’ experience in sales and marketing, having worked with major hotel chains and establishing his own travel business, Suood stands firm in the travel and hospitality industry as a key voice. He serves as the President of Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO).

Suood has worked with international organisations such as Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) in hosting Maldives Travel Conference and Maldives Travel Awards annually. He is also amongst the co- founders of SME & Entrepreneurs Federation of Maldives (SEFM).

Members of the multi-national panel will be travelling to multiple cities in the region and evaluating properties and services. During the evaluation, each property has to do a presentation of 10 minutes before the panel.

Over 500 travel and tourism businesses operating in the South Asian region have been nominated for this year’s edition of the awards.

Voting for the nominees is underway.

SATA 2019 Gala is scheduled to take place in September.

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.

Over the past three years, the SATA Gala has been held in Sri Lanka, Maldives and India.

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