The Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) hosted its inaugural Member Forum last Monday, 15th May 2023. Held at H. Meerumaa, Male’, the event saw 80 attendees, including MATI members and representatives of the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Technology.
The main objective of the forum was to engage in productive discussions and propose meaningful solutions to pressing issues and challenges faced by the Maldives Tourism Industry. As such, it served as a valuable platform to address the need for a collaborative atmosphere within the industry by stressing the importance of sharing knowledge, expertise and industry best practices among stakeholders and industry partners. By doing so, it will increase the willingness of the whole industry to collectively tackle and solve universal challenges jeopardizing the thriving tourism sector.
The discussions were directed at thematic areas designated for the forum. Assigned based on feedback received during the 33rd AGM of MATI, the topic picked ranged from Waste Management and Renewable Energy Generation at resorts to managing increases in fuel costs. While discussing the areas, members raised concerns that waste management best practices were limited to the Tourism Industry and called for a national waste management plan to be implemented, encompassing all industries and communities.
Furthermore, they also brought to attention how the newly enacted regulations barring the disposal of wet waste into the ocean have become effective without facilitating alternative industry-wide solutions for waste management. Similarly, the members also advocated for the industry and nationwide dissemination of knowledge, expertise and financing mechanisms which will bolster renewable energy production within the industry.
Shedding light on increasing fuel costs, the members consensually agreed that fuel costs are the most burdening operational costs for the Maldives tourism industry. The volatility of oil prices combined with the limitations of supplies is a huge barrier adversely affecting the profitability of resorts. On this note, there was an urgent plea to devise new innovative solutions that address this concern on a national level. In addition to this, presentations on the thematic areas were also given by the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Technology, Four Seasons Resorts Maldives, Sun Siyam Resorts, Soneva, Crown and Champa Resorts (CCR) and Atmosphere Core.
The forum concluded with closing remarks by the Secretary General of MATI, Mr. Ahmed Nazeer. In his remarks, he reiterated the importance of addressing issues discussed at the forum which he tagged as nationwide challenges that were critical not only to ensure the sustainability of tourism but also to the entire nation. He also reflected on the longstanding partnership between MATI and the government and stressed the importance of enhancing partnerships with the private sector/ public sector in the future. He concluded with a call to pursue policies and actions that enhance economic and social well-being. The 2nd edition of the Member Forum is scheduled to take place in July 2023.