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Tourism and Covid-19: An opportunity to rebuild better

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By Michelle Kovacevic

Scenarios by the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) suggests that tourism could decline by 60-80 per cent this year, completely decimating the sector that is a key driver of growth for the world’s poorest countries.

“The impacts of Covid-19 on tourism are unprecedented. With borders closed, hotels shut down and planes on the ground tourism has come to a total standstill in the last two months,” said Zoritsa Urosevic, Director of Institutional Relations and Partnerships at UNWTO.

“The best-case scenario is a 58 per cent decline in international tourist arrivals if borders start gradually opening in July. This would be the biggest dip in international tourist arrivals in history.”

One hundred per cent of all world destinations have implemented travel restrictions in the wake of Covid-19, and this means 67 million fewer international tourists up to March, and $80 billion in lost exports.

Crucial sector for millions

Tourism is one of the largest and fastest-growing sectors in the world, representing nearly 10 per cent of the world’s GDP, 30 per cent of global services exports and providing one out of every 11 jobs.

Tourism is a crucial growth pillar for least developed countries (LDCs). In 2019, LDCs received 41 million international tourist arrivals – more than double the volume registered in 2010 – and earned $26 billion from international tourism, or 11 per cent of their total exports.

“Tourism has a very broad value chain. It relies on industries like hospitality, transport and recreation but it also feeds demand in food, arts, design, cultural products and services. This is one of the reasons that it is such an important sector for development,” Urosevic said.

The tourism value chain also provides important direct and indirect employment opportunities for vulnerable communities such as women and youth.

Tourism was also one of the main factors enabling Cabo Verde, the Maldives and Samoa to graduate from LDC status.

Despite all this, tourism is not often a government priority nor a major action sector for donors. Between 2006 and 2013, tourism comprised only 0.09 per cent of Official Development Assistance (ODA) and 0.4 per cent of aid for trade disbursements.

“This has meant that many LDCs have struggled to make the substantial infrastructure and utility investments needed to develop their tourism sector, become more competitive and advance their capacity for inclusive economic growth,” Urosevic said.

Opportunity in crisis

One of the lessons from tourism’s collapse, Urosevic said, is that governments have become fully aware of the importance of tourism to their economies, and the associated socioeconomic impacts, especially when it comes to the millions of jobs that are now at risk.

“This means that we have an opportunity to adjust our focus and step up support to invest in tourism, in particular green investment,” she said.

“What is very clear is that this work has to be done right now. We need to help countries survive through the crisis and prepare to receive tourists again.”

The World Tourism Organisation has released 23 recommendations for actions to support the tourism sector to bounce back. In LDCs, the most urgent focus has been on supporting tourism ministers to secure financial packages and additional borrowing options for mitigation and recovery offered by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other International finance institutions.

“We are helping these countries to secure the financial capacity to sustain and support tourism businesses surviving and workers to have a wage, particularly informal workers who are not registered anywhere and need social support to survive,” Urosevic said.

They have also been offering support to strengthen institutions, as well as an integrated technical assistance package covering immediate economic recovery, implementation of protocols to reopen, marketing and digitalisation.

“One of our focuses in reopening destinations is strengthening of domestic and intra-regional markets. We think this could help the sector tremendously in the immediate and as we build recovery,” Urosevic said.

The tourism sector will definitely bounce back, Urosevic said, because of the deep desire of people to travel and connect with others.

“Just listen to the people around you… everybody wants to go somewhere. Travel has become part of our DNA. We need this dream time and moment of retreat with ourselves, nature and other cultures,” she said.

“But I think travellers are going to be different. This crisis has forced many of us to live locally and so we may think more about that when travelling internationally – seeking out local food, local purchases – and growing the local production of foods and goods for the benefit of everyone, but we will TravelTommorrow!”

Note: This article was originally published on Trade for Development News. To view the original article, please follow this link.

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Baros Maldives: The Perfect Setting for a Joyful Easter in the Maldives

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Baros is a treasure nestled in the Indian Ocean, just waiting to be discovered. This Easter, uncover the myriad of delights on offer for guests celebrating the holiday on our pristine island shores. 

From sunrise dolphin cruises to underwater marvels, serene spa journeys and delicious culinary sensations, every moment on Baros is a magical surprise. From 29th March to 4th April 2024, the Baros team has curated a special program of Easter celebration. Choose from a wide range of specially crafted experiences and curate your very own Easter escape of a lifetime. 

Baros delights the senses. There is something for everyone to enjoy, from snorkelling, diving and exciting excursions to unparalleled destination dining experiences and sensational spa moments. 

Guests are invited to harvest fresh and exotic ingredients from Baros’s Chef’s Garden for a unique meal preparation under the expert guidance of our award-winning chefs. Alternatively, they can immerse themselves in the allure of a specially curated menu, set by the seashore under a tapestry of stars. Every dish is a culinary masterpiece, creating unforgettable moments. 

For adventure on the high seas, guests can spend the day exploring five traditional fishing methods across multiple stunning locations on a fishing extravaganza. Or set sail on Baros’s luxury yacht, Serenity for a sunrise frolic with playful dolphins. 

At Baros, guests are welcomed to immerse themselves in the vibrant tapestry of Maldivian culture as local traditions come alive. Delve into the rich history and customs of our island sanctuary as you tantalise your senses with local delicacies, participate in interactive experiences and listen to captivating narratives from a local historian. 

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The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands Announces 2024 Masters of Crafts Program With Stellar Line-Up of Guest Experiences

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The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands is set to  welcome a shining season of global talent in its signature Masters of Crafts program for the second year  running. Working with some of the world’s most talented masters of food and drink, wellness, adventure  and environmental innovation, the resort’s curation of considered guest experiences has transformative  travel at its heart. From epicurean journeys with Michelin Star chefs and award-winning bartenders, retreats  guided by leading names in wellness, to adventure and learning with surf icons and environmental thought  leaders, 2024 guarantees extraordinary memories of a lifetime.  

The series, which last year included two Michelin Star British chef Tom Sellers with decorated bartenders  from Singapore’s Vijay Mudaliar of Native, to Malaysia’s Jungle Bird and celebrity crystal healer Emma  Knowles, will run throughout 2024 bringing a star-studded choice of dates to the luxury travel agenda. 

The resort’s signature Behind the Bar series is set to impress in 2024. Opening on the 8th March and running  through to the 6th December, this exclusive program promises an exquisite fusion of international mixology  talent, sustainability-focused concepts, and a celebration of local ingredients. Guests will have access to  some of the world’s most decorated drinksmiths with a line-up including; Stockholm’s Hampus Thunholm  from Röda Huset, 8th-13th March, Paul Aguilar & Maros Dzurus from HIMKOK, 5th-6th April, Republic from Singapore, 24th – 25th July, Bangkok’s Matteo Cadeddu from Opium, 9th-10th August, New York’s  Harrison Ginsberg from Overstory, 18th-19th September, Berlin’s Damien Guichard from Wax On, 22nd, 23rd November and Paris’ Hyacinthe Lescoet from The Cambridge Public House, 5th-6th December.

This Easter, from 27th March – 2nd April, New York based meditation practitioner and contemplative  guide Kirat Randhawa, will inspire guests to approach life through a different lens. Randhawa will share  practical tools for self-care on a journey of discovery where transformative sessions and empowering  wellness practices will include; cultivating stillness, igniting and welcoming reflection, inviting expansion,  practicing reinforcement and deepening integration.  

From 23rd-27th May an immersive wellness retreat brings together global gurus of practice with The  Essence of Balance – Elemental Harmony. A week-long program will follow a journey driven by the  spiritual power of the number five and the five elements of earth, water, fire, air and spirit. Guiding a cosmic  dance are five practitioners each custodians of an elemental force.  

California-based international yoga teacher Josh Kramer brings the grounding element of earth with his  celebrated practice blending Iyengar and vinyasa flow. Movement instructor and founder of the Jacy Method, Jacy Cunningham introduces his powerful method of physical movement representing the  adaptability of water, while sound healer and Reiki master Nicole Rutsch will harness the intellect of air  and the power of nature’s vibrations. New York’s Jackie Stewart will channel transcendence of spirit with guided meditation, while guests will be nourished by Nicole Berrie, founder of cult wellness guide,  Bonberi, with a plant-based menu of her most celebrated dishes representing the transformative element of  fire.  

In a Summer of Renewal, The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands is committed to ensuring that all guests  ‘Leave Better’. From 19th-23rd July, celebrity healer and founder of the sound healing school The Copper  Vessel, Susy Markoe Schieffelin, will take residency with a soothing practice guided by the moon. Under  Maldivian skies guests will bathe in Susy’s signature sound baths as enjoyed by millions worldwide, with her clients including Google, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and solo artist LeAnn Rimes. From 15th-20th August the Summer transformation continues with movement guidance from celebrated practitioner and  founder of Project Woman, Abi Adams. During two programs guests will embark on an emotional journey and exploration of hormonal balance with tools of meridian dance, rhythm meditation, music, yoga and  creative writing.  

A first for the resort, 2024 sees the introduction of two retreats partnering with championship surf heroes Nic von Rupp and Victor Bernardo. During the Maldives’ optimum surf season of June and July, the exhilarating escapes led by von Rupp and Bernardo will allow guests to ride and master the four most  popular waves in the North Malé Atoll comprising Chicken, Cokes Surf Break, Honkeys and Jailbreak.  

With his trademark touch of Portuguese flair and German strength, Nic Von Rupp is one of the top ‘big  wave’ surfers in the world. Two-time finalist of ‘World Surf League Big Wave Performance of the Year’,  von Rupp spends his time in pursuit of the world’s largest swells and will take the helm at The Ritz-Carlton  Maldives, Fari Islands from 4th-13th June. Brazilian big wave surfer Victor Bernardo was born on a board,  surfing from the age of four and with global accolades under his belt, he is one to watch on the free surfer  circuit. Bernardo will lead a guest retreat from 1st-7th July

Growing its stable of exceptional gastronomic experiences, 2024 will see pop-up residencies with an  impressive circle of culinary friends. From 27th July-3rdAugust, two Michelin Star and one Michelin Green  Star, Chef Bruno Verjus brings a taste of his Paris restaurant Table by Bruno Verjus to the Fari Islands.  For two nights only, an exquisite menu from the home of the famed ‘tarte au chocolat avec caviar’ will be  created and served under the stars at the resort’s Beach Shack. Guests will also have the opportunity to join  Verjus in an exclusive masterclass, and for the winning bidders of the Marriott Bonvoy Moments’ package, the chance to embark on a big game fishing excursion.  

From 10th-12th August Chef Pam Soontornyanakij, newly crowned Asia’s Best Female Chef 2024, will  bring her celebrated mastery from Bangkok’s Potong. The first and youngest female chef to receive both a  Michelin Star and ‘Opening of the Year’ award from the Michelin guide in the same year will present a  bespoke menu of her progressive Thai-Chinese cuisine in an exclusive two-night residency at Summer  Pavilion.

Chef Rolf Fliegaulkf, founder and executive chef of Switzerland’s Ecco will take over the resort’s Beach  Shack for two nights from 12th-14th November. The two Michelin Star and 18 Gault Millau points’  Fliegaulkf will unveil a creative menu bursting with exquisite flavour pairings demonstrating his signature  approach of ‘purist aroma cuisine’. 

The resort’s Visiting Heroes for 2024 bring inspired interactions with conservationists and environmental  thought leaders. From 8th-18th April legendary ocean explorer, film maker and conservationist Jean-Michel  Cousteau will be returning to the resort in continuation of the Ambassadors of the Environment program  and to provide a truly unique residency. Cousteau will host several presentations focused on marine biology,  lead a number of dives with guests including coral regeneration, and chair a thought-provoking panel  discussion alongside marine biologists and representatives from the Ministry of Climate Change,  Environment, and Energy. An exclusive Marriott Bonvoy Moments’ experience will be available to two  lucky guests via bid application, closing on the 23rd March. 

Joining the Visiting Heroes series, climate activist and Forbes 30 under 30 for social impact, Saad  Amer will play a pivotal role in the development of the resort’s sustainability agenda this year. A UN  consultant and named ‘most influential voice in ESG’ by WWD, Amer will be launching new sustainability  initiatives while undertaking educational programming with local islands and schools as part of the resort’s Community Footprints program. Dates for guest presentations and exclusive panel sessions will be announced soon. 

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MMPRC strengthens destination presence in the Indian market at SATTE 2024

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Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC/ Visit Maldives) strengthens destination presence in the Indian market at SATTE 2024 alongside 57 representatives from 34 companies from the Maldives tourism industry. This event is being held from 22nd to 24th February 2024 at India Expo Mart, Delhi.

SATTE has established itself as the biggest networking forum for the travel and tourism industry in South Asia. Visit Maldives is showcasing the unique beauty and the distinctive experiences of the Sunny Side of Life as a short-haul holiday destination for Indian travellers at this event.

SATTE 2024 provides an extensive platform for the industry leaders and travel  trade partners to  connect,  network,  and showcase their products and services. Participation in this event assists in sharing the latest updates about  the destination, the unique selling points of our tourism products  and  the various experiences available in the Maldives with the participating travel trade representatives. Additionally, it provides  numerous opportunities for the industry partners to disseminate the latest information about their individual properties and unique offers.

Visitors can expect a range of activities at the Maldives stand at SATTE 2024, including meetings with key travel trade professionals and other partners, along  with  media interviews. Free holiday getaways will also be given to the lucky winners through a raffle.

India  was  the top source market to the destination last year with 208,876 arrivals received by 31st December 2023, which is 14.4 percent of the total market share. MMPRC consistently conducts various marketing activities targeting this market to maintain destination momentum. Several marketing activities are planned to be held throughout 2024 for this market as well. These marketing activities ensure that the Maldives remain a top-of-mind destination for the Indian market.

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