Dhiraagu Guesthouses Maldives Conference 2017 was held at Paradise Island Resort and Spa on September 23, 2017. The Guesthouse Conference is an annual event organized by Maldives Getaways and this is the second year it has been held. At the Conference, Maldives Getaways announced that they will host the first-ever Guesthouses Maldives Expo in May 2018 turning the Conference into a more trade-based concept.

At the Conference, several top experts in their fields shared their insights on various topics that were critical to the guesthouses industry of Maldives. Chief guest Ms Shoko Noda, the UN Resident Coordinator as well as the UNDP Resident Representative to the Maldives, spoke about the importance of sustainable tourism to the Maldives and how it could be a crucial pillar in supporting the local community. Next, Title Partner Dhiraagu CEO Mr Ismail Rasheed spoke about their involvement with the community and their efforts at supporting the guesthouses industry. This was followed by a special plaque handover from Dhiraagu to Maldives Getaways which was accepted by Maldives Getaways Managing Director Mr Akhmeem Abdul Razzaq. The plaque symbolizes a reusable bag, as Dhiraagu will distribute reusable bags to every guesthouse in the Maldives as a means of supporting the “Ban the Bags” campaign initiated by Maldives Getaways.

The handover ceremony was followed by a presentation from Dhiraagu, Guest Handling and Training presentation by Accor Hotels, Introduction of A+F furniture range by Onestop of Singapore, a presentation on How to Attract Tourists by Booking.com, a product launch by STO Home Improvement, presentation by Parley Maldives on Responsible Disposal of Ocean Plastics, as well as a presentation by Hatton National Bank about their simplified card payment system.

The presentations resumed after a short lunch break. Growth Through Online Travel Agents (OTA) by Expedia.com was followed by an interactive presentation titled “Growing Together” by Allied Insurance. Common Issues in Taxation of Guest House Industry was presented by CTL Strategies, Sharing of “MTCC Towards Green Energy” by MTCC, and Bridging the Gap by Maldivian.  A lecture based on the recent and ongoing development of Velana International Airport was presented by MACL, and a presentation by WEAM about Exploring Maldivian Culture followed. Finally, a short summary of the guesthouse industry so far and what to expect for the industry in the near future was given by the Ahmed Karam, President of the Guesthouses Association of Maldives.

The highly anticipated Conference had over 3 hours of networking opportunities fitted right into its agenda giving guesthouses a chance to network and find ways to grow their businesses in collaboration with suppliers and agents alike.

The Conference linked leading figures in the guesthouse industry with tourism sector stakeholders such as tour operators and hotel suppliers. A total of 170 guesthouse proprietors and managers took part in the conference. Representatives of top online travel agents such as Expedia and Booking.com visited and networked with the guesthouse community. Apart from industry experts, international and local budget based agents solely focused on the budget industry were in attendance at the Conference.

Guesthouses Maldives 2017 magazine, the 4th edition of the magazine, was also released at Dhiraagu Guesthouses Maldives Conference 2017.

Lastly, Maldives Getaways awarded Top Island awards to Alif Dhaal Atoll Dhigurah, the winner in 2016, and Vaavu atoll Fulidhoo, the winning island for 2017. The winners were decided in 2016 and 2017 by a popular vote taken via a Facebook poll.

“Guesthouses Maldives Conference” is a one-day event held annually with business meetings, education sessions, networking events and interactive evening functions held exclusively for the guesthouse industry. This is an invitation-only event with participants carefully selected, personally invited and verified against our strict qualification criteria. The main aim of this event is gathering guesthouses and travel agents in one platform to enable engaging, networking and information sharing.