Ten businesses are honoured in industry body-backed award show held outside of Maldives for first time, as the country’s human rights record continues to come under fire globally
The Maldives Association for Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO) has unveiled the initial winners of its 2015 travel awards, held this year in Dubai - the first time the event has taken place abroad.
Coinciding with the 2015 Arabian Travel Market Event, the fourth iteration of the awards, which are devised to recognise local and multinational businesses serving the Maldives’ tourism industry, saw ten winners announced during the ceremony held on May 5.
33 recipients in all have been chosen by award organisers in categories ranging from ‘Leading International Airline’ - won by Sri Lankan Airlines - to ‘Leading Guesthouse’ - awarded to the Arena Beach Maldives. The MATATO Maldives Travel Awards also encompases other vital, yet seemingly less sexy areas, like human resource management.
The remaining 23 winners are expected to be announced back in the Maldives at a separate event to be held September of this year, according
to the event's organisers.
Other winners unveiled so far include:
Fly Dubai - selected as ‘Leading Low Cost Carrier’
Sun Island Resort and Spa - selected as ‘Leading Human Resource Management’
Viewtual - selected as ‘Leading Travel Technology Partner’
Coco Prive' Kuda Hithi - selected as ‘Leading Private Island’
Bandos Maldives - selected as ‘Leading Meeting and Conference Resort’
Sonevafushi - Selected as ‘Leading Eco Resort’
Hulhule' Island Hotel - selected as Leading Airport/City Hotel (helped in part perhaps by having a license to serve alcohol afforded to no other non-resort properties)
Anantara Hotels and Resorts - selected as ‘Leading International Hotel/Resort Brand’
Attended by fisheries and agriculture minister Dr Mohamed Shainee and deputy parliamentary speaker Moosa Maniku, along with officials from the tourism ministry, the award ceremony has been held amidst heightened global pressure and scrutiny of authorities in the country.
Late last month, the European Commission passed a resolution
encouraging member states to warn their citizens through official channels such as national travel advice websites about EU concerns regarding the Maldives’ current human rights record.
The calls follow growing global criticism of the Maldives judiciary and perceived political interference by the administration of President Abdullah Yameen, which has seen high-profile opponents including former President Mohamed Nasheed being jailed on terrorism charges.
Close to 200 people had been detained this month after tens of thousands took to the streets of the capital Male’ on May 1 to protest against the high-profile imprisonments of Nasheed and the country's former defence minister Mohamed Nazim.
Senior opposition figures including Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) chair Ali Waheed, leader of the religious conservative Adhaalath Party, Sheik Imran Abdulla, and Jumhoree Party Deputy Leader Ameen Ibrahim have since all detained for attending the protests. All three mean remained detained at the time of press, while 50 others have since been released.
Meanwhile, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) has also this week called
for a government investigation into allegations of police brutality and arbitrary arrest of protesters during the demonstrations.
Local media has reported
that the government has commenced work on a new bill that will redefine what constitutes terrorism in the country, and is described as “drastically reducing key rights.”