Tourism Minister Dr. Abdulla Mausoom said on Sunday that Maldivians must become leaders of the tourism industry and develop tourism in local communities in order to ensure that the benefits of the industry are truly enjoyed by the people.
He made the remark in his speech at the inauguration of Maldives Border Miles, a one of a kind loyalty program to incentivize frequent visitors, introduced on Sunday evening to coincide with World Tourism Day.
In his speech, Mausoom said that the theme of World Tourism Day 2020 - ‘Tourism and Rural Development’ – aligns with the policies of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s administration.
He said that the path to making Maldivians leaders of the tourism industry lies in creating high-paid and attractive jobs for Maldivians within the industry, and by improving the involvement of artists and musicians in the industry, as well as women.
Mausoom said that the decision to reopen the borders on July 15, while many competing destinations kept their borders closed amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic - was both a bold and important decision by the President.
“It was a decision to revive the economy with the support of the tourism industry, where an economy had ceased to exist,” he said.
He said that while the objective at the time was to adapt to the crisis and reopen the borders while ensuring safety and security of both visitors, industry workers and communities at large, things have since improved.
He said that while tourist arrivals continue to take a drastic hit due to global travel restrictions amid the ongoing pandemic, he is hopeful of success for the tourism industry in the coming year.
Maldives has recorded 13,500 tourist arrivals in the two months since border reopening.
Maldives Border Miles was initiated by Maldives Immigration and developed with the support of tourism industry stakeholders, designed to improve Maldives’ visibility and increase arrivals by incentivizing repeat visitors.