International Maldives Travel Market (IMTM) begins the third edition of Sustainable Tourism Forum (STF), today, December 3, 2022 at the Manhattan Business Hotel.
The two day forum was initiated by Vera Hakim, the resident representative of UNDP Maldives.
In her speech, Vera said that Maldives has the fifth largest reef biodiversity and the seventh largest reef ecosystem in the world. That being the case, a large percentage of GDP is dependent on the ever popular tourism industry of the Maldives.
Tourism is a field that involves the participation of women, youth and people with special needs. Therefore, tourism sustainability should not be a CSR promotion but instead be invested into and practical work implemented within local communities using the latest technologies and innovations, she said.
Delivering the key note speech at the ceremony, Deputy Minister of Tourism Dr. Naushad Mohamed said the government aims to benefit local communities through tourism, preserve it's natural beauty and revive culture. The state is working hard to maintain these practices and is researching sustainable tourism practices in different parts of the world, he said.
Dr. Naushad said the Blue Sea Standard, which will be launched under the UNDP project to build sustainable tourism, will audit guesthouses and monitor sustainability management, renewable energy use and biodiversity conservation. It will encourage increased participation of women and people with special needs, protect human rights and treat tourists visiting the country in a more appropriate manner, he said.
The Deputy Minister highlighted that a master plan for tourism development is also being prepared in collaboration with Asian Development Bank (ADB). The master plan will provide policies, infrastructure and resources to promote tourism in a sustainable manner while protecting the environment.
IMTM Managing Director Hawwa Shiuna Khalid said the STF forum will identify the needs for tourism sustainability and provide useful information to formulate a sustainability policy.
The Sustainable Tourism Forum will continue until tomorrow, December 4.