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UK diners snap up state-subsidised quinoa and steak



LONDON (Reuters) – On a summer’s evening, the streets of central London echoed to what has become a rare sound during the coronavirus pandemic: the chatter and laughter of diners seated at terrace tables.

The launch on Monday of Britain’s state-funded, half-price Eat Out to Help Out scheme triggered a rush for some of the capital’s best-known eateries, and a broader rise in business at other restaurants.

The area around the former marketplace in Covent Garden was still largely devoid of its usual hordes of office workers, tourists and theatre-goers.

But the steep discounts whetted the appetite of the area’s remaining regulars at a nearby branch of By Chloe, a vegan restaurant chain. Its sales increased by 20% on the first day of the scheme compared with a week earlier.

Despite the signs of the initial success of the scheme, the lure of cheap lunches and dinners will not be a silver bullet for the country’s struggling hospitality industry.

Many people in Britain remain worried about the risk of infection in shared spaces, hampering efforts by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government to get the economy going again and to get workers back in their offices.


“Coming to London feels like you’ve walked into a scene from 28 Days Later,” Stephen Entwhistle said, referring to a post-apocalyptic horror film as he waited in By Chloe for his lunch.

The 35-year-old advertising worker said the scheme gave him a chance to lend a hand to Britain’s economy.

“I will probably go out a lot more now, rather than trying to decide what to cook every day,” Entwhistle said.

Data from booking firm Opentable showed a 10% jump in the number of diners at reopened restaurants in Britain on Monday compared with the same day in 2019, the first rise since March. At the start of last week, the number of diners had been down more than 40%.

Big discount, but big problems

Finance minister Rishi Sunak announced the scheme in July as part of a latest wave of emergency measures to shore up the economy which contracted by a quarter in the March-April period.

The 500 million-pound ($650 million) scheme offers 50% off the bill for eat-in food and drink – up to 10 pounds per person and excluding alcohol – on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in August.

The government hopes the unprecedented subsidy, along with cuts to value-added tax for the hospitality sector, will help to reduce job losses at restaurants, cafes, bars and pubs which employ 1.8 million people.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, an industry group, welcomed the support but said around a third of Britain’s bars and restaurants are at risk of permanent closure.

“At the moment it’s taking a little while to unwind,” she said. The government’s emergency support, which also includes a massive job retention programme and rules preventing eviction by landlords until September, was helping to slow job losses.

“But they will start to come through,” Nichols said.

She said she was pressing Sunak for more support in his autumn budget, including measures to help bring down the burden of rents and debt taken on during the crisis.

Britain’s unemployment rate has held at just below 4%, kept down in large part by the job retention scheme. But employers who benefit from it must now make steadily rising contributions to its cost and it will be closed at the end of October.

The government’s budget forecasters have predicted the unemployment rate will hit 12% at the end of this year in their central scenario.

Missing workers

Scot Turner, vice president of operations at QOOT Co., which runs the By Chloe vegan food chain, said his firm would extend the 50% discount offer through September, without the government subsidy, in the hope of catching more returning workers.

But he added it was extremely worrying that some employers had advised staff not to return to the offices until 2021.

“My fear, in central London, is whether there’s enough being done to drag people back into town,” he said.

The degree of caution that consumers feel is also a big unanswered question for the Bank of England which on Thursday will announce its latest outlook for the economy.

The uncertainties underscore the scale of the challenge ahead even for restaurants that have been swamped with booking requests such as the Hawksmoor chain of steakhouses, which is offering an extra 10 pounds off between Monday and Wednesday in August, on top of the government’s subsidy.

When it announced 5,500 seats on its website with its Eat Out to Help Out offer, they were all gone within six hours.

“So far, the re-openings have gone better than we hoped,” said Huw Gott, one of Hawksmoor’s founders, above the growing hubbub from a dining room. “But who knows what September and October will bring?”

Reporting and photo: Reuters


Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) holds its 34th Annual General Meeting



The Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) held its 34th Annual General Meeting at Kurumba Maldives today, with a total of 100 members in attendance. 

The day’s events began with a welcome address from the Chairman of MATI, Mr. Mohamed Umar, who also presided over the session. The agenda included an address from the Secretary General, Mr. Ahmed Nazeer, the review and approval of the minutes of the 33rd AGM, the review and adoption of the Annual Report and Financial Reports for 2023, the approval of the 2024 budget, the appointment of auditors for 2024, the welcoming of new members and election of executive board members to the two vacant positions (by-election).

In the member discussion session, the following topics were covered: the Government’s aim to reach net-zero emissions by 2023 and renewable energy generation in the Tourism Industry, new terminal of Velana International Airport and developments, employment challenges, the Industrial Relations Act and trade unions, environmental conservation and the significance of creating and executing efficient management plans for protected areas like the South Ari Marine Protected Area (SAMPA).

Following the official proceedings, the Minister of Tourism Hon. Ibrahim Faisal and the Minister of Economic Development and Trade Hon. Mohamed Saeed joined the forum. The Ministers provided remarks and engaged in a Member Q&A session. This session provided members with the chance to directly engage with the Ministers and delve into crucial industry topics. The queries focused on the Economic Outlook, forthcoming development plans and  immediate challenges and issues affecting the Tourism Industry.

A video presentation was also showcased that delved into the extensive work undertaken by MATI in 2023. The video also touched upon the Tourism Industry’s performance over the past 5 years, as well as the current and projected human resource capacity of the sector.

In his closing remarks, the Secretary General highlighted the importance of collaborative efforts in addressing industry challenges and called for greater unison amongst industry stakeholders, ending with an acknowledgement of the promising start to the year in terms of arrivals.

Executive Board Members elected to the 2 vacant positions (by-election):

  1. Ibrahim Shareef, CEO and Managing Director of Maldives Airports Company Limited
  2. Renato De Olivera, General Manager of The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands and representative of Marriott International
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Unlocking power of travel storytelling at Travel Creators Exchange 2024



Join us for the Travel Creators Exchange 2024, taking place on February 1, 2024, at the Hotel Jen in Male’, Maldives.

This dynamic event provides a platform for networking and collaboration among Maldives-based travel creators, fostering connections, idea-sharing, and the establishment of lasting partnerships to expand opportunities and monetise content.

Our lineup of distinguished speakers includes:

  • Zihuny Rasheed, Deputy Managing Director of MMPRC, will present on “Power of Digital Storytelling: Collaborative Strategies for Destination Promotion.” MMPRC actively markets the Maldives globally, utilising a comprehensive approach that includes travel trade shows, roadshows, digital marketing, and more.
  • Amjad Thaufeeg, Commercial Director of Kuda Villingili Maldives Resort, brings over 23 years of hospitality industry experience. He will discuss “The Role of Content in Tourism Marketing,” drawing on expertise in revenue, customer service, sales & marketing, and human capital development.
  • Suresh Dissanayake, Assistant Vice President of Sales & Marketing of Heritance Aarah & Adaaran Resorts, with nearly two decades of experience, will shed light on “What does a Sales and Marketing Director Do?” He brings extensive luxury hospitality experience and a proven track record in sales, distribution, and marketing.
  • Vishal Amir Ahmed, a versatile cinematographer and content creator, will explore “Who is a Content Creator.” Currently associated with Various Arts Studio, he specialises in providing multimedia solutions to various clients.

Organised by Maldives Insider, Maldives Virtual Tour, Travel Trade Maldives, and Hotelier Maldives, this collaborative effort aims to empower Maldives-based travel content creators and elevate the Maldives as a premier destination for captivating travel storytelling.

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Acclaimed contemporary artist Ana Pušica explores perpetuality and community at Patina Maldives



Ana Pušica Kramer, an internationally  acclaimed contemporary artist, joins Patina Maldives for an exclusive  art residency in the now infamous Fari Art Atelier. From January 22 to  February 22, 2024, Ana Pušica will grace the shores of the Fari Islands,  weaving a vibrant narrative of colour and emotion across her larger  than-life canvases. 

Her artistry transcends boundaries, melding abstraction and figuration into awe-inspiring masterpieces. Having exhibited globally, from New York to Beijing, Ana’s paintings are a physical, intuitive act rooted in movement.  Described as a “beautiful fluorescent thunderstorm,” Ana’s art explores light and colour, capturing the energy of life itself. 

The Fari Art Atelier which has previously hosted the likes of Daniel Arsham, Chris Stamp and David Nott, will be transformed into Ana’s studio and gallery showcasing her enthralling artworks—a mesmerising journey through poetry, memory, and the vibrant interplay of colour. Guests at Patina are invited to delve into Ana’s world, where each stroke reveals layers of meaning, evoking sensations of intense lightness and boundless interpretation. 

At Patina Maldives, Ana will immerse herself in a month-long residency, inviting the Patina Malidves community or guests and team to witness her artistic fervour firsthand. Guests will have the rare opportunity not only to observe her creative process but also to engage with and create art alongside this luminary.

Experience artistry at its most exclusive

Art Exhibition
Experience Ana’s captivating exploration of colour and emotion in her spellbinding artworks displayed at the Fari Atelier.

Art Workshops: Message in a Bottle
As part of a collaborative artwork, Ana invites Patina guests to participate in short workshops, actively contributing to the creation of a permanent installation at Patina Maldives.

Open Studio Session
Join Ana for an exclusive open studio session, offering guests a behind the-scenes look at her creative process.

Ana Pušica residency package
Discover a world where creativity knows no bounds as Ana Pušica, the maestro of contemporary art, transforms Patina Maldives into an immersive canvas of inspiration.

Book now to secure your experience.
For more information and reservations, please visit Patina Maldives or contact

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