In his welcome address Moosa Zameer, the tourism minister of the Maldives, underlined the story of his country’s economic success which he had already talked about at the opening of the Destination Day at the ITB Berlin Convention: “Despite the many obstacles we have managed to become a holiday destination.“
It was an honour to be standing here in the role of partner country of ITB Berlin 2016. Together with the world’s leading tourism trade show the Maldives was also celebrating its 50-year anniversary and the start of diplomatic relations with Germany. At 100,000 visitors every year, Germany was the Maldives’ leading source market. Looking back to the beginnings in 1972 Zameer emphasised that tourism had been carefully planned and controlled from the start. Protecting the environment and sustainable tourism had top priority. At 28 per cent of GDP, next to the fishing industry tourism was the country's most important economic sector.
It had been a long road to this point. In 1983 the island nation first exhibited in Berlin. The tourism minister praised the pioneers of the early days for their confidence and courage. He also thanked his colleagues from the tourism industry: “You have been a big part of our success.“ He expected this year’s promotional campaign ’Visit Maldives 2016’ to attract an additional 1.5 million tourists over the next three years.
According to Zameer, protecting this unique natural environment for tourism, the future and the island nation’s quality of life was priority for this ’extraordinary island destination’. The government strictly supports sustainable tourism policies in order to transform the Maldives into a prestigious tourism brand. 40 sea areas – including the Baa Atoll in the Indian Ocean, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and one of the world’s largest groups of coral reefs, were declared conservation areas in 1995. 99 per cent of the Maldives’ surface area is water. The 200 resorts operating on 116 islands are required to comply with strict environmental regulations. The aim is to complete installation of climate-neutral energy systems by 2020.
Hall 5.2, Stand 109