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Maldives says will help Thomas Cook customers return home, sets up dedicated help desk

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Maldives on Monday announced measures to help tourists affected by the collapse of British travel agent Thomas Cook, one of the leading tour operators to the Maldives.

In a joint statement, the Maldives’ tourism ministry, and the official tourism promotion body, Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC), assured the best possible support for affected tourists on their return journey. All resort partners have been contacted to confirm the number of Thomas Cook travellers currently staying in the Maldives and to determine their return destination, they said.

“… the government will do everything in its power to ensure the well-being of the passengers affected,” tourism minister Ali Waheed was quoted in the statement, as saying.

The Maldivian authorities said the main Velana International Airport is operating as usual and measures have been put in place, including a dedicated help desk, to ease the situation for holidaymakers waiting to return home. Efforts will be made to provide food, assistance and accommodation, if required, they added.

“We’re very sorry to hear of the closure of Thomas Cook and it is our top priority to ensure that the return journey of all affected tourists will be as comfortable as possible,” Thoyyib Mohamed, Managing Director of MMPRC, said.

Thomas Cook’s 178-year existence of came to an end on Monday after the British travel firm failed to find private investment to keep it afloat, affecting thousands of holidaymakers.

The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is co-ordinating the repatriation, the biggest in peacetime, after the tour operator “ceased trading with immediate effect”.

Some 16,000 holidaymakers were booked to come back on Monday, and UK authorities hope to get at least 14,000 of them home on chartered flights.

The UK CAA — an arms-length body set up by the UK Department for Transport (DfT) — has chartered 45 jets to bring customers home from locations including Central America and Turkey. It will fly 64 routes on Monday in an undertaking called Operation Matterhorn.

The UK CAA is also contacting hotels accommodating Thomas Cook customers, who have booked as part of a package, to tell them that the cost of their accommodation will be covered by the government, through the Air Travel Trust Fund/ATOL cover.

Thomas Cook had secured a £900m rescue deal led by its largest shareholder Chinese firm Fosun in August, but a recent demand from its lending banks to raise a further £200m in contingency funding had put the deal in doubt.

The holiday company had spent all Sunday in talks with lenders trying to secure the additional funding and salvage the deal, but to no avail.

It had also asked the government for financial aid, a solution also urged by Labour and union groups.

But on Sunday Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told the BBC the government did not “systematically step in” when businesses went under unless there was “a good strategic national interest”

Customers on a package holiday have Atol protection – a fund paid for through industry levies – which will cover the cost of their holiday and repatriation.

Thomas Cook has blamed a series of issues for its problems including political unrest in holiday destinations such as Turkey, last summer’s prolonged heatwave and customers delaying booking holidays because of Brexit.

But the firm has also faced fierce competition from online travel agents and low-cost airlines.

In addition, many holidaymakers are putting together their own holidays and not using travel agents.

Thomas Cook had been one of the leading European tour operators to the Maldives, with the firm heavily contributing to the growth of the UK market in Maldives’ tourism.

The latest official figures released by the Maldives’ tourism ministry put the UK at the fourth position amongst the top source markets to the Maldives with a marketshare of 7.4 per cent. Visitor numbers from the UK saw an increase of 11.1 per cent to reach 73,262 during the first seven months of the year.

Thomas Cook also runs a resort on the island of Eriyadu under its “smartline” brand.

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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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