Yes, it's true! During a year of unprecedented hardships that has taken its toll on tourism, Maldives has been crowned as the World’s Leading Destination at none other than the World Travel Awards 2020.
Maldives, a nation which is always among the world's top premier travel destinations and extremely popular among high-end travelers and celebrities, received the much-coveted award at the Grand Final of the World Travel Awards 2020 announced at a virtual event yesterday.
A bit surprising is the fact that this is the first time that Maldives has won the award in the history of the island nation. However, this fact makes it no less spectacular since it is the most distinguished award category which Maldives competed with 22 other destinations including Dubai, Malaysia, Spain, Mauritius, and Sri Lanka to take home.
The World Travel Awards established in 1993, is the most prestigious honours program in the global travel and tourism industry recognized globally as the ultimate hallmark of industry excellence. It serves to acknowledge, reward, and celebrate excellence across all sectors of the global travel and tourism industry.
Maldives receiving such an esteemed recognition during the most challenging of times faced by the tourism industry has never been more important.
This was a factor evident in the remarks made by Maldivian Minister of Tourism upon receiving the award.
“Maldives winning World's Leading Destination award is a strong endorsement of the popularity of Maldives amongst international tourists. This superb win reflects the strong determination and sound policies of President Solih and his administration, strive and strides of travel and tourism industry partners and employees; targeted #VisitMaldives promotion by industry partners and MMPRC and of course the warm smile of Maldivians. Congratulations!”" said Minister Dr. Abdulla Mausoom.
Maldives was also nominated for a staggering 40 categories at the Grand Final with 8 nominations in destinations category, 53 nominations for 30 categories in Hotels and Resorts and 3 nominations for 3 world categories competing against world class destinations, with several tourist establishments winning in these categories. These awards are:
- World's Leading New Resort 2020: Emerald Maldives Resort & Spa
- World's Leading Luxury Island Resort 2020: The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort
- World's Leading Luxury Island Villas 2020: Baros Maldives
- World's Leading Honeymoon Resort 2020: JA Manafaru
- World's Leading Water Villa Resort 2020: Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa
- World's Leading Seaplane Operator 2020: Trans Maldivian Airway
- World's Leading Airport Resort 2020: Hulhule Island Hotel
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Maldives as a whole and the travel and tourism industry was hit hard, and it caused an unprecedented level of disruption.
As the lockdown began, the marketing plans of the government’s national tourism body, Visit Maldives came to a complete halt, and the campaigns had to be shifted to digital platforms; all travel and tourism partners began adapting to the new situation.
The means of communication changed, but it enhanced the way for a more effective channel between agents, partners, and customers across various key markets.
Efforts and planning for the reopening of borders were made with the contribution of the entire industry, where an emphasis was given on the unique geographical formation of Maldivian islands, and the key USP of one-island-one-resort concept.
These characteristics make Maldives a relatively safe destination and a safe haven for visitors. The rest of the world was constantly being made aware of the safety measures and important procedures in place for tourists, which came with the reopening of borders on July 15, 2020.
Visit Maldives, alongside industry stakeholders and partners, continued working tirelessly with several marketing activities and campaigns were launched, providing a platform for tourists from around the world to relive the happiness and rediscover the wonders of Maldives.
All in all, Visit Maldives has carried out over 412 different types of marketing activities in 22 global markets. 314 activities were carried out during this pandemic as part of the crisis recovery plan; some of these include fairs (online as well as offline), webinars, FAM trips, online roadshows, outdoor campaigns, digital media campaigns and more.
Despite the challenges over the course of the year, this accomplishment is a remarkable testament of the love of tourists from around the world, as well as the massive effort and continuous contribution made by each and every one of the stakeholders, in order to revive and restore the industry in Maldives.
Speaking on behalf of Visit Maldives, the Managing Director Mr. Thoyyib Mohamed expressed his sincere appreciation and gratitude to everyone who voted for Maldives and the tourism industry stakeholders. he stated,
“We are beyond thrilled to receive the World’s Leading Destination award for the first time in the history of Maldives. This prestigious award means a lot to Maldives, especially as we achieved this during these difficult times. Thank you everyone who voted for us. And thank you to the travel industry partners for the immense work carried out to accomplish this. I would like to thank His Excellency President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih for the support and close guidance especially in the recovery process of the nation and the tourism industry”.
Further to this, World Travel Awards has reported a record number of visitor traffic and engagement from public voters. This shows that as travel resumes in the world and the tourism sector recovers, the appetite for travel has never been greater.
Tourists are constantly seeking the very best tourism products from across the world, and as Maldives is now the World’s leading Destination, it is a pivotal moment to market the country as one of the safest and top travel destinations in the world.
Maldives has also won 4 awards in the Indian Ocean category at World Travel Awards, attesting to this. These categories are Indian Ocean’s Leading Beach Destination 2020, Indian Ocean’s Leading Cruise Destination 2020, Indian Ocean’s Leading Destination 2020 and Indian Ocean’s Leading Dive Destination 2020. The destination has also won the famed Indian Ocean’s Leading Destination award 12 times within the last 16 years, this year being the 13th time.