IMTM Pvt.Ltd has successfully concluded the Fourth Edition of the Sustainable Tourism Forum, which took place on the 11th and 12th of December 2023 at the Manhattan Business Hotel.
This year, STF explored the theme “Green Investments and Innovation for Responsible Tourism: Paving the Path for a Greener Future,” inspired by the World Tourism Organization’s theme for World Tourism Day. It provided an opportunity to delve into how tourism investments in upskilling people, renewable energy, and climate adaptation, while fostering avenues for innovation and entrepreneurship, could lead to a more sustainable future in an ever-changing world.
The Sustainable Tourism Forum garnered official endorsements from: the Ministry of Tourism as the Official Partner, the Maldives Marketing & Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) as the Official Destination Partner, and the Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) as the Endorsing Partner.
The forum brought together various stakeholders from the tourism sector, including resorts, guesthouses, and NGOS, as well as private sector tourism-related businesses, independent institutions, UNDP, ministries, scientific and academic bodies. It encouraged a multi-sector conversation and collaboration towards a common goal: sustainability.
STF 2023 aimed to gain insight into the tourism sector stakeholders’ understanding of sustainability and how they practice it. With this goal, STF endeavored to define sustainable tourism establishments in the country. The primary objective of the STF was to identify and develop criteria for sustainable tourism establishments in the Maldives. A policy paper detailing the findings and recommendations from the forum will be published, with hopes of bolstering sustainability in the Maldives. This paper will be presented to government offices, NGOs, associations, and other tourism-related establishments.
Session One: Concepts, Trends, and Policies Relating to Sustainable Tourism
The forum discussions commenced under the guidance of Mr. Xu Jing, Vice Chairman of the Global Tourism Economy Research Centre (GTERC) in Macao. Leveraging his expertise as a Sustainable Development Specialist, Mr. Xu Jing delivered a speech titled ‘Towards a more Sustainable Tourism Destination in Asia: Tourism Sustainability: Changing Concepts and Trajectories.
During his comprehensive address, Mr. Xu Jing elaborated on crucial aspects of a theoretical framework for sustainability, emphasizing the essential need to holistically consider a destination’s economic, social, and environmental dimensions. Despite sustainability being multifaceted, many destinations tend to prioritize the economic aspect while overlooking critical social and environmental factors. Achieving genuine sustainability requires addressing all three dimensions simultaneously.
In the forum, Ms. Jauza Khaleel, the Forum Moderator and a specialist in Sustainable Development, delivered an insightful presentation titled ‘Green Blue Investments – Concepts and Policy Landscape.’ Her talk shed light on Responsible Tourism, emphasizing its pivotal role in mitigating adverse economic, social, and environmental impacts.
Furthermore, she highlighted that Responsible Tourism endeavors to enhance economic opportunities for residents, uplifting the well-being of host communities. It also aims to improve working conditions and industry accessibility, actively involving local communities in decisions that significantly influence their lives and prospects.
Drawing from her expertise as a Sustainable Tourism Specialist, Ms. Jauza elaborated on the development of tourism in the Maldives. She emphasized the essence of green blue investments, defining them as crucial investments necessary for reducing greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions without significantly affecting the production and consumption of non-energy goods.”
The forum was divided into three sub-themes, each corresponding to the presentation topics of the participants. Nine external speakers from the tourism industry presented their sustainable practices, sharing their experiences during the forum.
The primary aim of these presentations was to acquire an understanding of how each organization defines sustainability and the measures they implement to advocate for sustainable practices. Each sub-theme was followed by a panel discussion, allowing the audience to ask speakers questions, resulting in interactive and lively sessions.
Session Two – Sustainability in Practice – Investing in People
Presentation 1: Hussain Afeef, Maldives Association of HR Professionals (MAHRP) Presentation 2: Hassan Shamaam, Villa Resorts
Presentation 2: Hassan Shamaam, Villa Resorts
Session Three – Sustainability in Practice – Investing in the Planet
Presentation 1: Zoe Coz, Amilla Maldives
Presentation 2: Lawrence Menz, Six Senses Laamu
Presentation 3: Giorgia Maggioni, Oblu Select Sangeli
Session Four – Sustainability in Practice – Investing in Prosperity
Presentation 1: Ibrahim Afsah & Aminath Muha, SME Development Finance Corporation (SDFC) Presentation 2: Aminath Samaahath & Rabaah Naseem, Small Island Geographic Society (SIGS) Presentation 3: Ruth Franklin – Secret Paradise Maldives
During the two-day forum, it was evident that all participants were dedicated to promoting sustainable tourism. Despite tourism’s contribution to economic growth, its adverse impacts have persisted unchecked over an extended period. This underscores the pressing need for well executed strategies that prioritize environmental conservation and sustainable practices.
The initial day of the forum featured sessions showcasing practical implementations of sustainable tourism and panel discussions, succeeded by a second day dedicated to collaborative group work and debates regarding the standards for sustainable tourism. Discussions held during the forum were passionate and stimulating, demonstrating remarkable enthusiasm and cooperation among all participants.
There is strong support for sustainable tourism in the Maldives, and we hope more people will recognize its importance. The government and its authorities have a significant role to play in fostering a mindset among the people and youth, making sustainable development an integral part of everyday life.
The IMTM team strives to lead the tourism industry in sustainable development, aiming for lasting business relationships to contribute to sustainability. Throughout the two-day forum, participants discussed various sustainability issues. Additionally, IMTM seeks to highlight why a more sustainable approach is essential for the Maldives’ tourism industry.