IMTM's annual event, IMTM 2022 has kicked off to a great start with its official inauguration by the Honourable Dr. Mausoom, Minister of Tourism for the Maldives. IMTM launched its fifth edition on September 7, 2022 at Manhattan Business Hotel, Male’.
IMTM is a business-to-business (B2B) International Travel and Trade Fair held in the Maldives every year. This Fair brings together leading tour operators, travel agencies, destination management companies and other businesses related to the tourism industry from across the globe to explore opportunities and liaise with a major representation of the Maldives Tourism Industry including Resorts, Hotels, Guesthouse, Liveaboards, Local Travel Agents and Tour Operators. IMTM held its first Fair in 2018 and is delighted to be back for its fifth edition this year. This is also the first physical Fair since the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019.
The Opening Ceremony was attended by the Minister of Tourism, Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage, His Excellency Rear Admiral S M Abul Kalam Azad - High Commissioner of Bangladesh, Government Officials, industry associations and representatives, partners of IMTM, media partners and all the International Buyers and Trade Visitors attending the Fair. It commenced with opening remarks by the Managing Director of IMTM, Ms. Shiuna Khalid. During her speech, she noted how the Maldives’ Tourism Industry has gone from strength to strength and thanked the industry as a whole for its unfaltering efforts to survive unprecedented lows in the past years.
Ms. Shiuna shared the story and vision behind IMTM, the International Maldives Travel Market. “IMTM was conceived from a simple observation - the lack of majority representation from the Maldives Tourism Industry at international tourism fairs, despite being one of the top travel destinations in the world. This is what we want to change by holding such a fair here in the Maldives. IMTM’s mission is to make it more accessible for our local tourism industry members to join such a world-class MICE event. For the last five years, we have been continuously working towards the same goal: to help local accommodation providers increase their clientele and sell their properties.”
Furthermore, she highlighted some of the challenges in having such a large-scale event in the Maldives. She called upon the government to place a convention centre on its priority list. The Maldives has come very far in establishing itself as a top destination as well as a MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, Events and Exhibitions) destination. It is necessary to invest in a proper full-fledged convention facility in order to be able to accommodate large-scale events and uphold the hospitable services that the Maldives has always been proud of.
IMTM stressed the importance of the tourism industry working together and making a combined effort to promote the Maldives. For global events such as this, the entire industry plays a critical role, and IMTM hopes to see more support from the government, SOEs, associations, private sectors and airlines to be able to bring in more credible participants for the Fair and ensure the best experience and outcome possible for all in the future. In addition, she shared a token of appreciation for all the guests, partners and participants for their contribution to the Fair.
Mr. Thoyyib, CEO and MD of MMPRC, IMTM’s Destination Partner, spoke a few words on their vision of tourism. He shared their aim of promoting a new style of MICE tourism at the Maldives which would consist of work in a more leisurely environment. The Maldives is the ideal destination for MICE as people will be able to have a stress-free experience in paradise and conduct their businesses in a more relaxed and casual environment. Furthermore, all travelers also get a 30 days on-arrival tourist visa, making it more convenient for travel arrangements. MICE has been MMPRC’s main campaign and IMTM 2022 is a good example of a MICE event and what it can do for the Maldives.
In addition, IMTM 2022’s Main Sponsor also delivered some remarks at the Opening Ceremony. Mr. Riffath, CEO of Astrabon Maldives shared his thoughts on the progress of the tourism industry, the importance of launching innovative ventures and the work both Astrabon and IMTM are doing for the advancement of the industry. “I am happy to see IMTM bringing the opportunity of a world- class International Travel and Trade Fair to the Maldives every year. I have been the Main sponsor and a partner of this event for the past 5 years and have seen how it promotes the Maldives’ tourism industry.”
Last but not the least, the Guest of Honour, the Minister of Tourism, gave a speech in which he officially launched IMTM 2022. “Today, we are back in person and that sends a strong message. Maldives has been at the forefront of the recovery and has been physically present from 2021, whilst following the health protocols. We finally have the chance to behave like tourism industry members and meet in person. I’m sure this event will be a very big opportunity these two days to make lots of good interactions and close some good deals.” As the Minister mentioned, IMTM is a platform for businesses to interact. The Fair concept is designed to ensure efficient and productive B2B meetings continue throughout the day. He added a convention center big enough to be able to accommodate such large-scale events is in the government’s plan, and Dharubaaruge will also be undergoing renovations. This will facilitate the execution of more events like IMTM in the future.
In addition, the Minister shared the government’s vision of taking tourism across all the islands in the Maldives. It aims to take tourism to the local islands by having guesthouses and hotels in every island, giving all a chance like never before. Furthermore, he revealed the Master Plan for 2023 will focus on accessible tourism. He hopes to truly make the Maldives a destination for all by having the necessary infrastructure and services at all accommodations and other tourism related products. The Master Plan will also focus on making the Maldives the world’s number 1 sustainable tourism destination. More information on the Master Plan will be announced in December.
The 2-day event is set to continue on the 7th and 8th of September 2022 at the Manhattan Business Hotel, from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, with B2B meetings between all participants taking place throughout the day. IMTM hopes all the participants enjoy this year’s Fair and that the connections they form will grow into fruitful long-term business relationships.
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