The Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) hosted a ‘Maldives Media Meet’ at the World Travel Market London on 8 November to share the 50-year journey, milestones, and achievements of the Maldivian tourism industry with global media representatives. The event was held at the ExCel London media centre.
The Maldives Media Meet was led by the CEO of MMPRC, Thoyyib Mohamed, joined by Tourism Industry Pioneer, Hussain Afeef, the High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Great Britain, and Ireland, Dr Farah Faizal; and Tourism Minister Dr Abdulla Mausoom. Representatives from the travel trade, media, and tourism-related organisations attended the session.
Attendees to the event were gifted a Maldivian Feyli (traditional sarong) upon arrival; a token of the Maldives’ culture and hospitality. An immersive storytelling session signifying the communal spirit and the unyielding hospitality inherent to the Maldives was presented to the attendants, from the “Communal Spirit” folklore story from Visit Maldives’ Tales of Maldives books. This was followed by a destination presentation, and then the opening statements by the panellists.
According to the MMPRC. the spotlight of the media meet was on the success of the Maldives Tourism industry over the past 50 years and the evolution of destination marketing efforts by MMPRC, as it marks the Golden Jubilee year since the inception of tourism in the country.
The opening remarks were made by Hussain Afeef, one of the pioneers responsible for the introduction of Maldives tourism. He gave the attendants an industry perspective on the inception of tourism in the Maldives, and the key differences between then and now.
“We took the first groups of tourists on excursions on sailboats. We had no telephones or fax machines, so we communicated via morse code. We had two flights a year coming into the country, bringing in a small group of tourists, that was our connection to the outside world. We had to play many roles, we wore many hats, we had to be tour guides, chefs, and everything in between for the tourists. It was a hard journey, but look how far we have come today.”
Tourism Minister Dr Mausoom spoke on the importance of sustainable tourism to an island nation such as the Maldives: “Maldives believes ‘Tourists of the Future’ are fast becoming the present, and expects destinations and service providers to be meaningfully committed to sustainable tourism practices.”
The High Commissioner to the UK, Dr Farah Faizal highlighted the long-standing bilateral ties between the Maldives and the UK, expressing her pride at how far the Maldives has come as a tourism destination.
“As a diplomat, I am proud that the Maldives has established a global presence in the tourism sector, becoming a recognised brand worldwide. This has undoubtedly supported the strengthening of international relations on all fronts. Our holistic response to the pandemic has resulted in the tourism industry rebounding back to pre-pandemic levels. I am certain that this year’s WTM will showcase the outstanding degree of service our industry has to offer.”
The CEO of MMPRC Mr Thoyyib gave a brief overview on the evolution of destination marketing through the past five decades: “We may have begun marketing the destination by participating in a fair, but then we continued to market the destination, establish presence, in all platforms, utilising every type of tool that was at our disposal. No matter the target we reach, in the form of infrastructure development in the sector or arrivals, our work is never ending. And that’s what made us the leading destination in 2020 and 2021, and that is why we are amongst the nominees for 2022 leading destination as well. Perseverance, dedication, and relentless efforts in making sure we are always visible and on the top.”
According to the MMPRC, the purpose of this event was to connect with leading media representatives from the UK, one of the traditional top tourist markets to the Maldives, as well as representatives from other global markets.
“MMPRC provided them with the most up-to-date information about the destination, its products, services, and unique experiences. Through this event, we promoted the Maldives as one of the most preferred holiday destinations for travellers from the UK and worldwide. We further promoted our future plans, sustainability initiatives, and marketing efforts for the coming year.”
The MMPRC also launched a special large-scale event to be hosted next year, the Visit Maldives Storytellers’ Conference 2023. The conference ended with a Q&A session, and one lucky attendee to the event won a complete set of the ‘Tales of Maldives’ books.