EVEN amid an unfavourable economic climate for the tourism industry – no thanks to lockdowns, border closures and travel restrictions to contain the COVID-19 pandemic – Maldives today ushered in the arrival of her 500,000th tourist for 2020.
During a momentous ceremony held at Velana International Airport, German tourist Kirstin Madeleine Nittke was identified as the 500,000th tourist to have arrived on the island state by the Ministry of Tourism alongside the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC), Maldives Immigration and Maldives Airports Company Ltd (MACL).
Nittke who has just touched down from an Emirates flight was escorted onto the stage where senior officials of the Ministry of Tourism, MMPRC, Maldives Immigration and MACL received her.
On stage, there was a festivity of Maldivian cultural activities, live Bodu Beru and Dhandi Jehun by traditional boduberu group, Bidhabin.
The German guest was also presented with a holiday voucher of a seven-night complimentary accommodation in an island villa on full board basis at Coco Bodu Hithi.
“Today we celebrate the arrival of 500,000 tourists,” noted a belated Minister of Tourism, Dr Abdulla Mausoom. “Surpassing this milestone in this challenging year in advance of the forecasted date is the result of combined efforts of tourism industry partners and the government.”
It is the end result of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih timely decision backed by the tourism industry partners’ determination to revive Maldives’ tourism industry.
Undoubtedly, the country’s Health Protection Agency, health professionals, related government authorities, and volunteers, too, have worked hard to brand Maldives as a safe and secure destination to the international community.
“Amid such a pandemic, it is a remarkable feat to keep on achieving such milestones,” enthused MMPRC’s managing director Thoyyib Mohamed.
“We welcomed the 100,000th visitor since the border reopening just a few days ago and today we are celebrating the arrival of the 500,000th visitor for the year.”
Thoyyib also paid tribute to the joint efforts by the entire tourism industry in both the public and private sector for such an outcome.
Immigration controller-general Mohamed Ahmed Hussain said Maldives has for decades been famous for its natural beauty and world-class hospitality which attracted travellers from around the globe.
“Despite this global pandemic, we at Maldives Immigration dedicate our commitments and full support to harness the tourism industry and move forward to boost our economy,” he remarked.
MACL’s CEO and managing director Andrew Gordon Stewart assured guests that the Velana International Airport will maintain its high standards of safety until vaccines are successfully administered.
“The Maldives has already earned international recognition as a great holiday destination and the future looks bright, in fact sunny,” he projected.
“Every month our tourist arrivals are increasing, and this is very positive and encouraging given tourism is the backbone of Maldives.”
BY : Cheah Chor Sooi – FOCUS MALAYSIA