Maldives returns to ITB Berlin after three-year hiatus

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The Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) is taking part at ITB Berlin after a three-year break, the first in-person event of the world’s largest travel exhibition since the Covid-19 pandemic.

The three-day fair kicked off in the German capital on 7 March (Tuesday), showcasing over 10,000 exhibitors to more than 160,000 visitors. The annual gathering covers all aspects of the travel and trade sector, including airlines, hotels, destinations and tour operator.

The Maldives ITB delegation is the largest so far with 233 representatives from 91 companies.

“Destination Maldives is proudly showcased with a double-decker stand in a space spanning over 504 sqm at the Berlin fair, providing visitors with a glimpse into the breathtaking Sunny Side of Life. Every aspect of the stand is thoughtfully curated to showcase the diverse segments of the Maldives’ tourism industry, including romance, seascapes, and cultural experiences, among others,” according to the MMPRC.

“The stand boasts 91 counters and 73 dedicated tables that offer industry partners the opportunity to engage in productive meetings and network with the global travel trade. The vibrant and colourful stand features a range of unique experiences, including cultural performances such as traditional Maldivian dance, and gastronomy experiences that offer visitors a chance to sample Maldivian delicacies such as kulhi roshi and foni roshi.”

A visitor to the Maldives’ stand praised its “sheer magnificence and beauty,” adding that it made him want to visit the country. “It is as if you have carried the vibrance and world-famous hospitality right into Berlin,” he said.

An industry partner observed: “ITB Berlin is all about networking. Not only do we get to network with the global travel trade community, we also get to network with one another in the industry. The islands of the Maldives may be dispersed, but when we are all under the same roof at the Maldives stand, I can feel the strength and vibrancy of the Maldives travel trade community.”

On Tuesday night, the MMPRC hosted the ‘Maldives Media Meet’ press conference on the sidelines of the fair at Hybrid Studio, Hall 5.3, Messe Berlin.

“Within just 50 years, we have completely transformed the Maldives from an obscure chain of islands scattered across the Indian Ocean into one of the most desired tourist destinations in the world. The evolution of the Maldives from coral stone huts to underwater villas is the journey of our people as much as it is the history of our tourism industry,” tourism pioneer Hussain Afeef said in his opening remarks.

Tourism Minister Dr Abdulla Mausoom spoke about the way forward for the tourism sector and expressed appreciation for the contributions and engagement of industry stakeholders. “We strive to maintain the popularity of Maldives through innovative, sustainable, accessible and inclusive tourism development and management approaches and models,” he said.

In his remarks, MMPRC CEO Thoyyib Mohamed said: “The Maldives has taken part in ITB Berlin continuously since 1984. However, this year is special. ITB Berlin this year has seen MMPRC’s largest delegation of Maldivian travel trade professionals, media, and high-level executives to any fair or exhibition.”

The MMPRC chief launched the ‘50 Ultimate Experiences’ Maldives guidebook compiled to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Maldives tourism industry in 2022. After the speeches, the officials took questions from journalists and attendees.

On Wednesday night, the MMPRC hosted the ‘Maldivian Evening,’ an annual networking event held with 600 attendees, including travel journalists, dignitaries, and German and international travel trade partners. The event featured Maldivian dance and music performances and offered the chance to win prizes such as all-inclusive free trips to the Maldives.

Traditionally one of the most important source markets for Maldives tourism, Germany was the 4th largest market in 2022 with 133,424 tourists, representing an 8% market share. The Maldives welcomed 22,995 German tourists during the first two months of 2023, which saw a robust 25% growth in arrivals compared to the same period last year.

After promoting the Maldives at ITB Berlin for the first time since retaining the the title of the ‘World’s Leading Destination’ for the third consecutive year, the MMPRC plans to “network with the German and international travel trade, share the latest updates on our tourism products and experiences, conduct one-on-one meetings in-person and virtually, and strengthen the Maldives’ brand in the German and global market.”