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Maldives celebrates 50 years of tourism, a sector undermined in the past

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Fifty years ago, an Italian travel enthusiast, George Corbin visited the Maldives after crossing many hurdles. Some believed the little nation in the Indian Ocean was not worth visiting and though his colleagues and friends advised against it, Corbin took a chance. Today, the Maldives is marking the golden jubilee of an industry people believed would not have flourished all those years ago.

Not knowing how to travel to the Maldives, Corbin visited the closest embassy, the Maldives Embassy in Sri Lanka, where he was introduced to the then junior employee at the embassy, the current Minister of Health Ahmed Naseem. Since there were no air connections, Naseem and Corbin travelled to the Maldives on a cargo ship.

The arrival of Corbin marked the beginning of tourism in the Maldives. Reminiscing on the beginnings of tourism, a key pioneer of tourism in the Maldives, Mohamed Umar Manik said that meeting Corbin made him realise that the Maldives is a place where tourism can be developed. At that time, Corbin was seeking uninhabited islands where he could bring Italians to swim and fish. He said the enthusiasm and faith of Corbin gave encouragement to himself, Naseem, and Hussain Afeef.

Manik recalled not having any services such as banks, airports, or telephones back in the day, adding that only hand radios or Morse code were used to contact Colombo, Sri Lanka. He said many people did not believe that tourism could be expanded in the Maldives due to the natural formation and the lack of development of resources. Even experts from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said that tourism would never succeed because there were no facilities and no infrastructure, he added.

Meanwhile, Cobin returned home and the first group of tourists arrived on February 16, 1972, under the leadership of Umar Manik, Afeef and Naseem. The group of tourists arrived from Milan, Italy chartering a flight from Air Ceylon. A total of 22 tourists arrived on the maiden trip. They came and stayed at Maagiri, Lux Hood and Kaneeru Villa. They stayed in the Maldives for 12 days.

When the first group of tourists arrived in the Maldives, Naseem was abroad on a government trip. However, Naseem described the situation in which they had to serve tourists. He said that Afeef with others ran from one house to the other serving the tourists, taking cutlery from one house to the other when one team is finished, adding the courage they showed back in the day is an incomparable example.

The first group of tourists included some Italian journalists. They went back home and wrote about their experiences in the newspapers which is how most people came to know of the Maldives. After the trip, discussions to develop a resort in the Maldives commenced.

Speaking on a programme aired on PSM News, Mohamed Moosa said many challenges were faced by the industry over the years. He said he used to supply vegetables and other products to the resorts for Afeef.

When the first group of tourists arrived in the Maldives, Afeef said there were no modern facilities. However, they loved the experience which ensured the trust of foreign investors in the Maldives. The first resort in the country opened on October 3, 1972, in Vihamanaafushi, as Kurumba Village or Kurumba Maldives as it is known now. Kurumba Maldives is a 30-room resort with a bed capacity of 60.

Today, 50 years later, the Maldives has 170 resorts, 866 hotels and guesthouses, and 154 liveaboards registered in the Maldives which brings the total bed capacity to 59,601. Today, the Maldives is known to everyone and tourism has flourished with the passion, determination and hard work of its young and energetic Maldivian founders. Just as Corbin fell in love with the palm trees, turquoise sea and white sandy beaches, the Maldives has made it to the bucket list of everyone

Corbin said the Maldives are world known and among the best destinations, getting visitors of different nationalities and regions, thus being a very safe haven.

 

Source: psmnews

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Maldives Showcased at Asia’s Biggest Dive Expo

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Maldives Marketing and Public Cooperation (MMPRC) has promoted Maldives at Asia’s largest dive expo, Adex Ocean Mission 2024.

Notably, Adex Ocean Mission is a global platform where investors, scientists, marine conservationists and as well as underwater photographs can join together. Simultaneously, dive operators along with dive equipment manufacturers took part in the expo. It has been 26 years since the expo first commenced.

Remarkably, MMPRC has actively engaged in promoting Maldives as a leading tourism destination, following exposure globally. The very expo was carried out from April 12 to 14 at Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Providing insight on the expo, MMPRC affirmed that persistent efforts have been made to provide updated information regarding the Maldives to those interested in diving related activities. Moreover, initiatives have been taken to create awareness about the Maldives as a central hub prioritising diving and as well as marine conservation.

One of the primary incentives of partaking in such expos is to attract tourists from the South Asian region. While the tourist arrival from the South-East Asian region amounted 58,947, the number of tourists who visited from January and February totals to 7,481.

Additionally, efforts are currently underway to initiate joint marketing campaigns and outdoor promotional campaigns following active engagements with several stakeholders targeted towards tourists arrivals from the South-East Asian market.

Source(s): PsmNews

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Minister launches Hankede Integrated Tourism Development Project

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The foundation stone of the Hankede Integrated Tourism Development Project has been laid in a event held in Addu City. The project was officiated by the Minister of Homeland Security and Technology Ali Ihusaan. This initiative marks as the biggest project targetting the development of the tourism sector within the city. The project worth USD 142.9 million, aims to pave a road for Addu City to be developed sustainably, in addition to bringing advancements to the tourism industry.

Speaking at the ceremony, Minister Ihusaan observed the launch of the project was a long-awaited vision of the residents of Addu City, noting that the practical work of the project will commence in two weeks. The minister stated that this project will enhance employment prospects, creating 3,000 job opportunities.

The project was entrusted by the Maldives Fund Management Corporation to China National Electric Engineering Company (CNEEC). The pertaining agreements signed by the companies on March 23, 2023, outlines the development of the project through engineering, procurement, and constructions required.

Providing an insight on the project, Maldives Fund Management Corporation revealed that the Hankeda project will have the capacity to accommodate 2,082 beds along with 1,041 rooms. It further disclosed that a variety of hotels of different standards will be established under the project. This encompasses of two grand hotels, two deluxe hotels, ten boutique hotels, 64 serviced apartments and seven beach villas. Several additional facilities will be provided under the project, including a knowledge centre, mix sport building, outdoor beach sports, theatre and other such entertainment facilities. Building will also be developed designated for food courts, restaurants and small firms.

The project will undoubtedly serve as a transformative endeavour to the entire city, bringing revolutionary changes to the tourism sector as well.

Source(s): PsmNews

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Fuvahmulah city council initiates tourism zone development project

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The Fuvahmulah City Council has launched a significant project aimed at developing a tourism zone within the city, covering an expansive area of 12 hectares. An agreement laying the groundwork for this transformative endeavor was recently signed between the Fuvahmulah City Council and Regional Airports, symbolising a pivotal step towards its realization. Mayor Ismail Rafeeq and the Managing Director of Regional Airports, Ahmed Mubeen, officiated the contract signing.

The comprehensive two-year agreement delineates the collaborative responsibilities of Regional Airports and the city council, encompassing investor recruitment, project design, and development. Mayor Ismail Rafeeq articulated his vision for the project, emphasizing the establishment of recreational service centers alongside accommodations for tourists.

With a focus on attracting more visitors to the city, Mayor Rafeeq highlighted ongoing efforts to bolster Fuvahmulah’s air transportation infrastructure. Plans are underway to commence physical work on the development before the year’s end, underscoring the council’s commitment to swift progress. Additionally, discussions are ongoing to explore the potential expansion of Fuvahmulah’s airport to accommodate jet landings.

Fuvahmulah City is renowned for its acclaimed diving spots, drawing a significant number of tourists seeking immersive experiences. Presently, the city boasts 21 guesthouses, catering to the influx of visitors flocking to explore its natural wonders.

Source(s): PsmNews

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