IMTM Pvt Ltd, on Sunday, officially announced that International Maldives Travel Market (IMTM) 2020 will be held virtually this year on October 28 and 29.
The announcement, made on the occasion of World Tourism Day, revealed that IMTM 2020, will be the "first of its kind concept of online travel and trade fair in the Maldives".
According to the company, IMTM, as a travel and trade fair, plays an important role to bring together international buyers, such as tour operators, travel agents, destination management companies and public relations companies, from around the world to liaise with the accommodation providers, including resorts, hotels, guesthouses, liveaboards, dive centres, local tour operators and travel agents of Maldives.
IMTM stated that the opportunity to conduct business in a virtual environment was offered due to the tough and challenging situation posed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
"This virtual exhibition is a part of IMTM’s broader plan to gradually reopen the travel, tourism and hospitality sector to new markets", IMTM said.
Noting that the World Tourism Day 2020 celebrates the importance of tourism to the rural development of communities, IMTM stated that the tourism sector is the leading provider of employment and other countless opportunities in Maldives.
"IMTM believes that with the adverse impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the tourism industry, all the stakeholders must secure the development of the country through the recovery of the tourism industry".
"There is no doubt that technology and travel is a perfect combination. It is important to understand that we have yet to overcome the obstacle of this pandemic and this joint force will be the starting solution of adapting to the current situation and transforming the events and tourism industry for the better".
In this regard, IMTM called on the local community of the travel and tourism domain to come together on a common platform to identify the challenges, find the solutions and explore opportunities to overcome the pandemic, for better and sustainable growth of the Maldives' tourism industry.
"Consequently, the objective of IMTM 2020 is to equip stakeholders with a tool to Reconnect, Revive and Grow the business", the company concluded.
As with numerous countries around the world, in the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Maldives closed its air and sea borders to tourist arrivals on March 27, halting the issuance of on-arrival visas until July 15.
The restrictions on international travel left Maldives' heavily tourism reliant economy in an extremely vulnerable state. In mid-April, the World Bank projected that Maldives would be the worst-hit economy in the South Asian region due to the pandemic.
Despite the lifting of restrictions, Maldives has noted a significant reduction in tourist arrivals compared to pre-COVID figures, with the ministry revealing that only 13,516 visitors were recorded between July 15 and September 8.
However, Minister of Tourism Dr Abdulla Mausoom has stated that the government is expecting an additional 100,000 tourist arrivals before year-end.