Tourism started in the Maldives back in 1972, and since then, Maldives has never looked back. Though started with just one property and a small group of guests, the island nation now has some 150 tourist resorts and welcomes some one million visitors yearly.

The year 2022 will mark the 50-year Golden Jubilee since the start of Tourism in the Maldives, and industry stakeholders are gearing up to celebrate the occasion in style.

The Ministry of Tourism has started a countdown to the 2022 Golden Jubilee celebrations with a special campaign #2022GoldenYear. The campaign was kicked off with a series of video messages by the pioneers of the local tourism industry.

The first message was by George Corbin, an Italian tour agent and a member of the first group of tourists that arrived in the Maldives in September.

George Corbin met Ahmed "Kerafa" Naseem, a junior employee at the Maldives High Commission in Colombo. Naseem later became the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and is currently the Minister of Health of the Maldives. Naseem facilitated Corbin and his group to travel to the Maldives.

"48 years ago I flew to Colombo to catch a cargo ship to go and visit the Maldive Islands. I managed to visit a lot of islands. Beautiful islands. And let me tell you, only one word for these islands--paradise. You have over 120 resorts, all kinds of sports; diving, fishing, surfing, you name it!" said Corbin in his video message.

Minister Kerafa Naseem, in his video message, highlighted the Maldivian tourism journey short and sweet.

"Tourism started in a very very small way in the Malsdives. But today it is the most popular destination in the world. And we should all be proud of this. 2022 will be the Golden Year of Tourism in the Maldives," said the Minister.

The first group of tourists stayed at houses in Malé, and were looked after Mr Mohamed Umar "M.U." Maniku and his friends, of whom also includes Hussain "Champa" Afeef". Both Maniku and Afeef are now owners and operators of large tourist property chains in the Maldives.

Corbin had promised to bring more travelers if the trio (Naseem, Maniku and Afeef) can arrange a place for them to stay.

Hussain "Champa" Afeef, was the first General Manager Kurumba Village (now Kurumba Maldives) in the Maldives, the first resort of the country. Afeef, in his video, expressed feelings of honor for his part played in hosting the first group of tourists.

"It is a very special privilege to have been in the team that welcomed and hosted the first tourist group in this beautiful country in 1972," said Afeef.

"I hope this coming year will be a prosperous year to all Maldivians, and all travel agents and tour operators local and abroad. And I hope we will meet the Golden Jubilee year 202w with joy, happiness and sunshine," Afeef said in his message.