Four Seasons Maldives wins prestigious Conde’ Nast travel awards

Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts CEO Katie Taylor yesterday received two prestigious Conde’ Nast World Savers Awards, on behalf of the company’s resorts in the Maldives.

Four Seasons Kuda Huraa and Landu Giraavaru resorts have been awarded the Conde’ Nast World Savers Awards in the categories of ‘Wildlife Conservation’, as well as the overall ‘Doing it all’ award.

“It’s in Four Seasons’ DNA to take steps to support the local community and environment in every destination where we operate; our social and environmental efforts in the Maldives date back to 1998,” said Regional Vice President of Four Seasons Resorts Maldives, Armando Kraenzlin.

Four Seasons Maldives also came runner up in the ‘Education’ category, one of six areas of social responsibility judged by an independent panel, which also include ‘Preservation (Environment and Cultural)’, ‘Health Initiatives’ and ‘Poverty Relief’.

A record 111 applications which were received this year for the luxury travel magazine’s awards, which are now in their sixth year.

A press release from Four Seasons explained that the company’s coral reef regeneration project, now in its 15th year, had become one of the most successful in the world.

The project started after 1998’s major El Niñoevent destroyed most of the country’s shallow reef coral and has been assisted by marine consulting firm Seamarc since 2004.

Four Seasons also runs a Hospitality Apprenticeship Scheme in the Maldives which this year will offer 50 young Maldivians a year’s vocational training in food and beverage preparation, service, maritime transport, housekeeping and guest services, PADI dive master and water sports.

The program, which has been operating for a decade, is open to young Maldivians aged 17-20, with O-level certifications and has seen more 265 young Maldivians graduate, said the company’s release.

Earlier this year Four Seasons Kuda Huraa worked with the local community of neighbouring Bodu Huraa and pest control consultant Trudy Rilling-Collins to introduce sustainable and environmentally-friendly mosquito control procedures.

Four Seasons stated that they had also contributed to projects involving two resort water-bottling plants, plant nurseries, local education and awareness outreach programs, health initiatives in support of local islands, support for local artisans, teachers and the Manta Trust charity.

Whilst the company was receiving its awards at the Lincoln Center in New York, Four Seasons Kuda Huraa were conducting a climate change workshop focusing on coral reefs and tourism, hosted by Seamarc marine biologist Patrik Svensson.

“Moving forward, the team at Four Seasons Resort Landaa Giraavaru is committed to working closely with local communities and agencies to ensure that the Baa Atoll World Biosphere becomes a world-class example of its kind, while at Kuda Huraa, the focus is very much on continuing to develop the Maldivian Sea Turtle Conservation Programme,” continued the release.

Earlier this week, Sylvia Jagerroos – a marine biologist working with Four Season’s partner Seamarc – discovered a dismembered turtle on the uninhabited island of Funadhoo in Baa Atoll, one of the country’s 14 priority nesting beaches legally protected under Maldivian law.


Maldives to host 2013 World Tourism Day

The Maldives will host the 2013 World Tourism Day celebrations under the theme ‘Tourism and Water – Protecting our Common Future.’ The event is a function of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, which chose the Maldives over contender Iran.

The decision was made during the 19th General Assembly in Gyeongju, South Korea, held from October 10 to 13. Tourism Minister Dr Mariyam Zulfa and Deputy Director General Moosa Zameer Hassan were among the 600 participants from member countries.

Tourism Ministry Deputy Director General, Moosa Zameer Hassan, said Iran conceded its bid for the event when the Maldives joined the running.

Tourism accounts for nearly 70 percent of the Maldives’ GDP indirectly, and 30 percent directly. Recent shifts in the global economy have brought a new wave of tourists from Asia, which has made the Maldives Conde Nast’s second-most popular tourist destination at a time of global recession.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the VVIP Koimala Executive Lounge at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA), Tourism Minister Dr Zulfa said tourism should be at the center of Maldives socioeconomic development. “Because tourism, of course, is our number one industry, and everything we do should center around making the product even more perfect than it is today.”

Hassan said the event was highly relevant to the Maldives.

“Tourism and environment are closely related to the future of the Maldives,” he observed. Although the event is a still two years away, Hassan said the Maldives hoped to take the opportunity to “provide our viewpoint to the U. N. on these issues, and portray our country and its message for this theme to the world.”

Although Hassan could not provide specifics, he was confident that the Maldives’ message in 2013 “will be about supporting tourism and environment in order to protect the Maldives, improve the quality of life for local Maldivians, and benefit foreign visitors and investors.”

Various public and private groups have lately taken steps to merge tourism and environmentalism.

Maldives Game Fishing Association (MGFA) is moving forward with a tag-and-release game fishing competition, to be held November 9-12 in and around North and South Male’ and Vaavu atolls. MGFA Committee Member Tiffany Bond previously said the event would introduce a new sport for tourists and locals while promoting conservation-friendly methods. “In many ways, it’s another feather in the tourism hat,” she said.

World Tourism Day is set for September 27 of each year. Next year’s celebration will be hosted in Spain under the theme ‘Tourism and Sustainable Energy–Powering Sustainable Development.’

Hassan concluded with a reflection on the importance of hosting World Tourism Day in the same year as the next presidential election.

“Twenty-thirteen is going to be a big year for the Maldives. By hosting an international event like this, we will be in a positive position for moving forward,” he said.