George Corbin, an Italian tour operator who pioneered tourism in the Maldives, was honoured with the first Abaarana (Gold) Tier of the Maldives Border Miles loyalty programme.
Fellow pioneer Ahmed Naseem – who partnered with Corbin to bring the first tourists on 16 February 1972 – presented membership documents to Corbin at the VIP lounge of the Velana International Airport. After a six-day visit to join golden jubilee celebrations, Corbin departed on Monday (22 February).
The gold tier membership was also gifted to his daughter Georgia Corbin, who was part of the first tourist group 50 years ago.
During the trip, Corbin reunited with other pioneers to launch a golden jubilee stamp collection and take part in a talk show moderated by the tourism minister. He also paid a courtesy call on the president and met with senior officials. Meetings with tourism industry associations focused on the potential untapped market for tourists from the United States.
As the first holder of the gold tier membership, Corbin will meanwhile have access to free VIP services and discounts from Maldives Border Miles partners.
Launched in December 2020 as the first of its kind by a country, the three-tiered programme allows tourists to earn points based on their number of visits and duration of stay. Additional points are awarded for visiting to celebrate special occasions such as birthdays, honeymoons or wedding anniversaries.
Rewards include fast-tracked immigration clearance, airport service benefits and discounts from select resorts and restaurants. Tourists can register online after submitting the mandatory health declaration before travelling to the Maldives.
In December, Border Miles membership reached 100,000 tourists, surpassing the initial target for the programme, which is managed by the immigration department in collaboration with the tourism ministry and the state-owned Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation and Maldives Airports Company Limited.