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World’s Biggest Tourism Fair Opens In Berlin

The Maldives has once again made a big splash at this year’s ITB Berlin travel trade show - the world’s leading trade show for the travel industry.

The 2007 display for the Maldives consists of a giant hut made of palm trees, which distinctly stand out among the other displays in the area – all aiming to grab the attention of those in the tourism industry and generate travel profit.

ITB Berlin, which is taking place from 7 to 11 March, has a record 184 countries exhibiting their regions and companies at this year’s show.

India is this year’s partner country and is occupying its own hall for the second time.

While the Maldives does not have its own hall, it has already made a presence at this year’s event. Representatives of the Maldives held a press conference earlier today explaining why tourists should travel to the island nation.

Speaking at the conference, Minister of tourism Dr Mahamood Sougee said: “2006 was a very good year for the Maldives. It was much better than expected with at least 600,000 visitors and 2007 will be another landmark year for the Maldives.”

Sougee said the reason this year will be a good for tourists is because the country plans to construct five new domestic airports. But he also stressed that tourists wouldn’t be the only ones who would benefit from this.

He said: “A new five-year master plan for tourism will be unveiled later this year with a focus on a greater participation of Maldives people in the tourism industry and a wider distribution of tourism wealth.”

“We want the benefits of tourism to go to all Maldivian people,” Sougee continued, “particularly women.

A key aim of our “master plan” is to make it easier to travel to all resorts and for Maldivian workers to have easy access to their home islands.”

Sougee also said that the Maldives was aiming to bring resorts closer to the people. “We want to encourage more cultural interaction between tourists and Maldivian people,” he said, “and tourists island hopping is a good way to do this.”

The Maldivian “master plan” for the country includes much more than just five airports - it consists of a new transport grid for the entire country. The panel said it recognised that Maldivian boat travel arrangements were not sufficient and said they were working with the private sector to develop
inter-island boat services.

“The new transport system,” said Sougee, “will cover the entire country in several phases. Phase one, is up and running from Addu Atoll, and in phase two, there will be scheduled services to Thinadhoo.”

Besides the improvements in transportation, the Maldives’ representatives at ITB Berlin also announced that a new resort in the southern region of the country will be up and running by November this yea r- bringing new jobs and prosperity to Addu Atoll and the island of Gan.

When asked if this will affect the natural beauty of the Maldives and the country’s ecosystem - a tourist attraction in itself - Hussain Hilmy, Director of Sunland Travels and Minister of Youth and Sport said:

“The Maldives offers peace and tranquility in nature and we will never compromise our core values of these two things.”

Courtesy: By Phillip Wellman (Minivan News)
March 8, 2007


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