Transcript: Maldives Tourism Minister speaks out on irrefutable benefits of the tourism industry


Welcome remarks were delivered by Maldives Honorable Minister of Tourism HE Ahmed Adeeb Abdul Gafoor at the Opening Ceremony of the 27th Joint Meeting of the two commissions in Asia-Pacific & UNWTO Regional Ministerial Conference on Positioning Tourism in a Wider Socio-Economic Context at the Bandos Island Resort & Spa in the Republic of Maldives on June 3, 2015.

His Excellency, President of the Republic of Maldives, Mr. Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s remarks:

His Excellency, Secretary General of United Nations World Tourism Organisation, Dr.Taleb Rifai, Honorable Prosecutor General, Honorable Speaker of Parliament, Honorable Ministers, Chairman of Maldives Association of Tourism Industry, Mr Mohamed Umar Maniku, Distinguished Delegates of the 27th Joint Meeting of the UNWTO Commission for East Asia and the Pacific (CAP) and the UNWTO Commission for South Aisa (CSA) and UNWTO Regional Ministerial Conference on Positioning Tourism in a wider socio-economic contest, Government Officials, Speakers, Experts, Maldives Tourism Industry pioneers and entrepreneurs, invitees, and Media representatives, Ladies and Gentleman

Assalaam Alaikum, Good morning and a very warm Welcome to everyone.
We are honoured and priviledged to host The 27th Joint Meeting of the CAP and CSA & UNWTO Regional Ministerial Conference on Positioning Tourism in a Wider Socio-economic

Context and I would like to thank on behalf of the Government of Maldives to UNWTO for giving us this important opportunity.

We are also extremely honored with the presence of His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Maldives, Mr. Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom and on behalf of UNWTO, the tourism industry and myself may I extend our sincere appreciation and gratitude to HE the President for accepting our invitation to inaugurate this conference. Thank you His Excellency. His Excellency’s presence clearly shows the recognition of the importance of tourism in the development of our nation as well as his commitment to the vital sector.

Distinguished delegates Ladies and Gentlemen.

Creating employment opportunities…enhancing development… generating foreign exchange and government revenue… building entrepreneurs and empowering youth… these are all irrefutable benefits the tourism industry brings to our communities and economies.

Tourism growth in the Asia Pacific region has been increasing in the past and will continue to be one of the fastest growing region in terms of arrivals as well as a source market. Tourism is a vital tool for economic growth, offering significant opportunities for economic gain. Tourism is a very important economic sector in the Asian and Pacific region as it generates employment in many related sectors (from construction to agriculture, fishing or telecommunications) and contributes to the overall economic growth in our countries. In some of our countries, the role of tourism in national economy is extremely vital. It also has impacts on our people and the environment. These dynamics have turned tourism into a key driver for socioeconomic progress. However, it is important to develop the tools for managing tourism properly in order to enhance its benefits and restrict any negative effects ensuring sustainability of the industry.
Asia Pacific enjoyed a promising year of tourism in 2014. 2014 saw an increase of 5 per cent in international tourist arrivals in the Asia Pacific. South Asia outperformed all the other regions in terms of growth in arrivals which is remarkable as the regions continue to face significant challenges in various forms and the global economic recovery is not as fast as we wish it to be.

Maldives is a unique example of how tourism has contributed to every single citizen of the country. I am very confident when I say that Maldives is one of the few destinations that provides political and economic recognition to the growing relevance and proven contribution tourism provides to the economy and community. The presence of His Excellency, President of Maldives and one of the pioneers of the tourism industry of Maldives at this function is an absolute indication of the value this country places on tourism.

Maldives continues to invest immensely in this sector to reap the maximum economic benefits of the tourism industry to the Maldives. H.E President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom has a strong economic vision and has initiated various ambitious projects which would multiply the socio-economic benefit of this sector through export revenues, creation of jobs and enterprises, and infrastructure development.

In this regard, Laamu Integrated Tourism Development Project, Expansion and Infrastructure Development of Ibrahim Nasir International Airport, establishment of Special Economic Zones, Hulhumale Phase two development, which includes a Yacht Marina, Cruise Liner Terminal, and
a separate tourism district which would include several tourism products, are some of the ongoing projects, which would diversify and expand the tourism sector of Maldives.

In terms of marketing and promotion of the Maldives, the Government is allocating funds to the maximum and the benefits of clearly evident from the tourism statistics. Tourist arrivals to Maldives in 2014 reached and exceeded the targeted 1.2 million, which was a 7.1% increase compared to 2013, and the number of registered beds also increased by 5% in 2014.
Maldives also attracts a small segment of the MICE market, and getting the opportunity to host this prestigious and important event today, would definitely go a long way in establishing a stronger portfolio for Maldives in this segment. Hence, I would express our sincere appreciation and gratitude to our dear friend Dr. Taleb Rifai and the Executives of UNWTO the distinguished member nations of both the commissions for allowing us to host this important event at this important juncture. I sincerely hope that as a host destination, the tireless efforts of our team to organize and carry out this event with the collaboration from UNWTO team are successful, and meet the expectations of UNWTO and the distinguished participants.

I would also like to thank, my dear friend, Mr. Waheed Deen and the management of Bandos Island Resort and Spa for the generous support provided to us in hosting this conference. This event could not have been organized in a successful manner, if it wasn’t for the support tourism ministry received from the tourism industry of Maldives, and all the line ministries. I also would like to recognize the dedication and commitment of all our team members at Ministry in making all the necessary arrangements.

Once again, I would like to welcome all the distinguished delegates and participants, and wish everyone a dynamic and productive couple of days ahead. For our international delegates, I hope you enjoy your stay in Maldives, experience the Maldivian hospitality and leave with an unforgettable quality experience and come back soon
Thank you. Wasslaam Alaikum