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Celta Vigo debuts Maldives-branded kit at Camp Nou

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La Liga club Celta Vigo has debuted its new kit that features the Maldives’ official tourism branding.

RC Celta players donned blue jerseys with “Maldives… The Sunny Side of Life” stamped on their sleeves during Saturday’s game against FC Barcelona.

Maldives tourism minister Ali Waheed watched the game at Camp Nou which ended in a 4-1 win for FC Barcelona.

“Tonight is a very historic night for @visitmaldives. We hope to be the sunny side of @RCCelta. Honoured to be part of the European football family & we invite everyone to our beautiful nation #Maldives 🇲🇻🏝the most beautiful and the safest,” the minister said, in a tweet just before the match.

Maldives had last week inked a sponsorship deal worth USD 2.7 million with Celta Vigo, as part of the destination’s newfound push into sports tourism.

Under the three-year partnership deal, the official ‘Maldives… The Sunny Side of Life’ branding will be featured on the sleeve of the game shirts and training kits of Celta’s first team. The club’s official bus, as well as various spaces in the Abanca Balaidos stadium and fields of training will also feature the Maldives’ tourism branding.

The partnership, which costs USD 900,000 per year, also covers development of football in the Maldives. Celta Vigo will receive several young Maldivian players for training at the club’s training academy, whilst club technicians will travel to the Maldives to share their knowledge and experience with the island nation’s national football team.

Celta is a Spanish professional football club based in Vigo, Galicia, currently playing in La Liga. It was founded on August 23, 1923 following the merger of Real Vigo Sporting and Real Fortuna Football Club.

Nicknamed Os Celestes (The Sky Blues), they play in sky blue shirts and socks along with white shorts. The club’s home stadium is the Abanca-Balaídos, which seats 29,000 spectators.

Celta have never won the league title nor Copa del Rey, although they have reached the final three times in the latter. One of the team’s best seasons was 1970–71, when they finished unbeaten at home and were known as the “giant-killers”. Celta came sixth that season and qualified for the UEFA Cup for the first time.

The club finished in their best-ever position of fourth in 2002–03, qualifying for the 2003–04 UEFA Champions League, where they were eliminated by Arsenal in the Round of 16. In the 2016–17 UEFA Europa League, Celta reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Europa League for the first time, losing to Manchester United.

This partnership with an international football club comes amidst a newfound push by the Maldives into sports tourism.

The island nation’s official tourism promotion body had earlier announced plans to look beyond the Maldives’ longstanding selling points of ‘Sun, Sand and Sea’ and venture into MICE, cultural and sports tourism.

The Maldives has been known as ‘The Sunny Side of Life’ for decades, owing to its monsoon-based climate, as well as the pristine white sand beaches and clear blue waters.

However, with recent changes in tourist demographics and the introduction of more affordable products such as guesthouses, there is a need to diversify the Maldives’ branding.

The government had earlier said cultural tourism would play an important role in developing the Maldives’ tourism industry. However, a concrete step has yet been taken to realise those objectives.

Maldives has welcomed over a million tourists this year, as the destination attempts to reach an ambitious target of 1.5 million visitors over the next two months.

The one millionth visitor of the year arrived in the Maldives on August 2 — a month ahead of last year. In 2018, the one millionth mark was reached on September 9, whilst it was celebrated in October the previous year.

According to official figures, total arrivals for the past nine months of the year increased by 15.8 per cent to reach 1,251,690 compared to the 1,080,459 in the same period last year.

Maldives welcomed a record 1.4 million tourists in 2018. It was a 6.8 per cent increase from the 1,389,542 tourists that chose to holiday in the Maldives in 2017.

Meanwhile, government has revised its forecast for the number of tourists visiting the island nation this year, increasing the estimate to a record 1.6 million from 1.5 million.

This positive growth in the tourism industry comes amidst concerns by private organisations representing industry stakeholders such as the Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO) over the lack of effort and budget to promote the Maldives as a destination.

These concerns come as the world-famous holiday destination struggles to match an increased bed capacity.

Over the past few years, dozens of uninhabited islands have been leased to local and foreign resort developers. Several international brands have entered into the market, increasing the number of resorts to more than 130. That number is set to increase as another 20 resorts are expected to open over the next two years.

Along with the new resort openings come the challenge of increasing demand from budget travellers who choose guesthouses over luxury resorts that the Maldives is known for. The guesthouse sector has rapidly expanded with over 500 guesthouses in operation today.

The previous government announced steps to maintain a structured growth in tourism, including a slowdown in leasing islands for resort development and increased marketing efforts in key markets such as China and the Middle East in order to reach an ambitious target of a record 1.5 million tourist arrivals this year.

Meanwhile, the new government has pledged to ramp up tourism promotion.

Reflecting the new government’s pledge, the state budget for 2019 includes MVR 104,200,000 (USD 6.7 million) for tourism promotion, up from MVR 34,733,333 (USD 2.2 million) this year and the previous year.

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Join Ifuru Island Maldives’ exhilarating ice, bubbles challenge

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Are You Ready? The Ice & Bubbles Challenge awaits your arrival at Ifuru Island.

Are you ready for the ultimate chill thrill of indulgence and adventure? Then put on your explorer hat and jet off to Ifuru Island for the Ice & Bubbles Challenge! Imagine: you’ll be basking in the breathtaking Maldives scenery while putting your might to the test with a 6-minute polar plunge, clutching a flute of bubbly like a boss. Once you conquer the challenge, you’ll savour the delicious bubbly and feel like a true champion!

Picture yourself lounging poolside, surrounded by swaying palm trees, white sandy beaches, and crystal-clear waters, while also pushing your endurance to the limit. And as a badge of honour, guests are gifted with a trendy Ice Bath and Bubbles Challenge t-shirt to flaunt their fearless spirit. The current record for the Ice & Bubbles Challenge is a brave 22 minutes, and we’re daring you to beat it!

Cold-water immersion can speed up your muscle recovery, reduce inflammation, and give you a boost of energy. Plus, you’ll feel like a true hero after conquering the challenge and basking under the warm Maldivian sun.

So, what are you waiting for? Rally your friends and come join us on Ifuru Island Maldives for an unforgettable adventure that’s sure to create magical memories that will last a lifetime!

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Six Senses launches Mermaid Courses in Maldives

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Six Senses Laamu and Six Senses Kanuhura in the Maldives are making waves with the launch of an enchanting underwater experience – PADI Mermaid courses.

Now, guests aged six and above can embark on a magical journey guided by certified PADI scuba dive instructors. Aspiring mermaids and mermen will be equipped with a monofin, a type of swim fin that mimics the movements of dolphins, and colorful fabric tail, mirroring the hues of the ocean. Catering to various ages, interests, and skill levels, both resorts offer a range of courses from discovery to advanced. A professional photographer is available on request to capture personal fairytale-moments.

“We’re thrilled to introduce this fun new experience to our range of underwater offerings,” says Judith Scheibelberger, PADI trainer and resident mermaid expert at Six Senses Laamu, an IHG Hotels & Resorts property. “Our mermaid courses are not only a source of fun and excitement for kids but also invite adults to tap into their imagination and reconnect with their inner child. Beyond the entertainment aspect and capturing Instagram-worthy memories, participants will also gain valuable underwater skills and learn about the awe-inspiring secrets of the sea.”

Mermaid courses join a plethora of underwater experiences available to guests at both Maldivian Six Senses resorts, including snorkeling with turtles, vibrant coral reef explorations, and exhilarating diving adventures. The resorts boasts state-of-the-art dive centers that provide comprehensive services and expert guidance.

For young adventurers, both resorts also offer the PADI Seal Team programme, catering to junior divers aged eight and above. This program allows aspiring divers to explore the underwater world safely, through the five ‘AquaMissions,’ where participants can delve down to four meters, or the introductory PADI Bubblemaker experience, tailored for children aged eight to nine, allowing them to dive down to two meters.

“These experiences not only offer a glimpse into the mesmerising underwater world but also provide an opportunity for young divers to develop their confidence and diving skills while exploring the diversity of Maldivian reefs,” says Anne Hospital, Dive Manager of both resorts.

The brand’s Grow With Six Senses programme offers all of the dimensions of wellness, providing kids with opportunities to reconnect with nature and engage with their surroundings. Through immersive experiences in local culture, wellness, sustainability and social interactions, children spark their curiosity and gain valuable life skills. At the heart of this programme are the dedicated kid’s clubs known as ‘The Den’, which serve as hubs for exploration and discovery.

At Six Senses Laamu and Six Senses Kanuhura, one standout offering is the Mermaid course, which invites children on an underwater adventure amidst stunning turquoise panoramas. On land, the activities are equally diverse, ranging from enlightening garden tours to innovative waste-to-wealth workshops and interactive junior cooking classes. These experiences are designed to provide children with valuable life skills through hands-on play, ensuring a comprehensive and enriching journey for young guests at the resorts.

Prices for the PADI Mermaid Courses start from USD 150 for a 45-minute discovery session. For bookings and further information, please visit sixsenses.com or contact reservations-maldives@sixsenses.com.

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Encounter of majesty: Whale Shark sighting at Vilamendhoo Island Resort

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Measuring an impressive 6.5 meters, a majestic whale shark was recently spotted gliding gracefully through the enthralling house reef of Vilamendhoo Island Resort & Spa, just beyond the main jetty. This awe-inspiring sight captivated guests, who were fortunate enough to snorkel alongside this magnificent creature. As the whale shark meandered through the crystal-clear waters, guests paused their activities, enchanted by the rare opportunity to witness such a spectacular marine spectacle.

Whale sharks, the gentle giants of the ocean, are renowned for their majestic presence in the azure waters of South Ari Atoll where, Vilamendhoo is located. These magnificent creatures frequent the abundant house reefs of this tropical paradise, creating a mesmerizing spectacle for visitors. Alongside them, graceful manta rays glide effortlessly through the crystal-clear waters, while vibrant coral gardens teem with life beneath the surface. Each encounter with these marine wonders offers a glimpse into the rich biodiversity surrounding the island, captivating the hearts of all who venture into its depths, adding to the allure of this tropical paradise.

“The sighting of the whale shark has evoked an overwhelming wave of positivity among our guests, who have shared their sheer delight at the rare opportunity to encounter such a magnificent creature during their stay. For many, this unexpected marvel has transformed their holiday experience at Vilamendhoo into an unforgettable journey, solidifying our resort’s standing as a premier destination for ocean enthusiasts and nature lovers,” elucidated Mohamed Zahir, General Manager of Vilamendhoo.

Located on a pristine island measuring 900 meters long by 250 meters wide, Vilamendhoo Island Resort & Spa follows the cherished ‘One Island, One Resort’ concept for which the Maldives is renowned. Surrounded by a spectacular house reef teeming with marine life, guests are invited to explore the underwater wonders just a short swim away from the expansive sandy beaches.

Whether it’s diving into the depths of the ocean or snorkeling amidst vibrant coral gardens, Vilamendhoo offers the quintessential island adventure. The resort’s 184 rooms, each adorned in natural island style, provide the perfect sanctuary for relaxation after days filled with oceanic exploration.

To reach this tropical haven, guests embark on a scenic seaplane transfer from Velana International Airport, enjoying a breathtaking 25-minute flight over the mesmerizing atolls of the Maldives.

In conclusion, the sighting of a whale shark at Vilamendhoo serves as a testament to the unparalleled beauty and biodiversity of the Maldives’ marine environment. As travelers seek meaningful encounters with nature, Vilamendhoo stands ready to welcome them into a world where every moment is filled with wonder and awe.

Discover paradise at Vilamendhoo Island Resort & Spa in the Maldives. With its pristine beaches, azure waters, and luxurious accommodations, Vilamendhoo offers the perfect retreat for relaxation and oceanic exploration. Nestled in the South Ari Atoll, this resort follows the cherished ‘One Island, One Resort’ concept, providing guests with a true tropical escape. Experience the magic of the Maldives with a scenic 25-minute seaplane transfer from Velana International Airport, and indulge in 184 rooms adorned in natural island style.

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