Maldives was named the World’s Leading Destination in the World Travel Awards 2020 on Friday, representing a first for the island nation.
Considered the most distinguished award category of WTA, the title of World’s Leading Destination was contested by 22 other countries including Dubai, Malaysia, Mauritius, Sri Lanka and Spain before Maldives secured the award.
"Despite COVID-19, the award is the result of the hard work of the entire tourism industry to make Maldives safe and welcoming to visitors. My heartfelt congratulations to all", stated President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih while welcoming the accolade.
- World's Leading New Resort 2020: Emerald Maldives Resort and Spa
- World's Leading Luxury Island Resort 2020: The St Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort
- World's Leading Luxury Island Villas 2020: Baros Maldives
- World's Leading Honeymoon Resort 2020: JA Manafaru
- World's Leading Water Villa Resort 2020: Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa
- World's Leading Seaplane Operator 2020: Trans Maldivian Airway
- World's Leading Airport Resort 2020: Hulhule’ Island Hotel
In addition to the aforementioned accolades, Maldives won four awards in WTA's Indian Ocean category; Indian Ocean’s Leading Beach Destination, Indian Ocean’s Leading Cruise Destination, Indian Ocean’s Leading Destination and Indian Ocean’s Leading Dive Destination.
"Maldives winning World's Leading Destination award is a strong endorsement of the popularity of Maldives amongst international tourists", stated Minister of Tourism Dr Abdulla Mausoom. He went on to add that the win reflected the strength of policies implemented by President Solih and the incumbent administration, as well as the success of promotion efforts by tourism industry partners including Visit Maldives and Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC).
"We are beyond thrilled to receive the World’s Leading Destination award for the first time in the history of Maldives. This prestigious award means a lot to Maldives, especially as we achieved this during these difficult times. Thank you everyone who voted for us. And thank you to the travel industry partners for the immense work carried out to accomplish this", stated Thoyyib Mohamed on behalf of Visit Maldives.
Visit Maldives, the government’s national tourism body, noted that World Travel Awards had reported a record number of visitor traffic as well as engagement from public voters. Stating that this demonstrated a high demand for travel as the global tourism industry recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, Visit Maldives highlighted that Maldives' status as the World’s leading Destination would be pivotal in future marketing efforts.
As with numerous countries around the world, amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Maldives closed its air and sea borders to tourist arrivals from March 27 to July 15. Following the implementation of lockdown measures, Visit Maldives and other tourism industry stakeholders shifted marketing activities to digital platforms. A particular emphasis was placed on highlighting the level of safety facilitated by the geographic dispersion of Maldives' islands.
Overall, Visit Maldives carried out over 412 different of marketing activities across 22 global markets. A total of 314 activities were carried out as part of a crisis recovery plan which included online and offline fairs, webinars, FAM trips, online roadshows, outdoor campaigns and digital media campaigns.
Established in 1993, World Travel Awards is considered the most prestigious honours program in the global travel and tourism industry.
Over the years, Maldives has secured multiple awards in various categories. Notably, Maldives won the famed Indian Ocean’s Leading Destination award 12 times within the past 16 years.