Tuesday 30 October 2018

KENYA: Kenya Airways Commences Non Stop Flights From Nairobi To New York

The long-awaited direct flight between Nairobi and New York City became a reality last night with the flagging off of the first Kenya Airways non-stop trip.

The national carrier’s Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner touched down at the John F. Kennedy International Airport on 29th october.

The maiden flight departed from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) at around 10:55pm and was expected to land on Monday at JFK International Airport at 6:55 am (1:55 pm Kenyan time).

Kenya Airways has now reduced the more than 24 hour long journey and it will be the fastest connection from East Africa to New York City, with a 15-hour duration eastbound and 14-hours westbound.

Flights to the United States are usually characterised by long stopovers in Europe and Middle East.

While flagging off the maiden flight, President Uhuru Kenyatta said the non-stop flight to the US was a confidence boost to Kenya’s economy and a positive signal for increased foreign direct investments.

The non-stop flight between Nairobi and New York City is set to provide a seamless experience for business and leisure travellers alike. It will open up Kenya and the region to the world to enjoy our hospitality and diverse culture, he said.

Kenya Airways group managing director and chief executive Sebastian Mikosz termed it as a great milestone, adding that it will act as a catalyst for attracting corporate and high-end tourism traffic around the world to Kenya and Africa.

This will also boost the economic growth of not only Kenya but the African continent, he said. The flight had a crew of four pilots and 12 flight attendants.

The national carrier will operate its Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner with a capacity of 234 passengers on the route.

Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) said the launch was a culmination of processes, audits and assessments by US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), an agency of the US Department of Homeland Security, that has authority over security of travelling public in the United States.

This led to JKIA achieving Last Point of Departure status, setting the stage for Kenya’s national carrier to fly directly to the US.

KAA termed the flight as an endorsement by the international aviation community on the investment they have made at JKIA in improving infrastructure and enhancing security, safety and passenger experience at the airport.

Kenya Airways flights will be departing every day from JKIA at 11:25pm arriving at JFK Airport at 6:25am the following day.

From New York, the plane will depart at 12:00pm and land at JKIA at 10:30am the following day. The national carrier said the schedule will enable connections to and from over 40 African destinations through Kenya Airways hub in Nairobi.

The national carrier is a member of the SkyTeam Alliance, flying to 52 destinations worldwide, 43 of which are in Africa and carries over four million passengers annually.

It has modernised its fleet with its 32 aircraft being some of the youngest in Africa, including its flagship B787 Dreamliner aircraft.

Monday 29 October 2018

LION Air Jet With 189 Passengers And Crew On Board Crashes Into Ocean

A LION Air jet has crashed into the ocean after taking off from Indonesia’s capital of Jakarta.

The plane with a seating capacity of 210lost radio contact just 13 minutes into the flight which was headed to Pangkal Pinang, an island east of Sumatra.

The aircraft disappeared near Karawang in West Java province, said Yusuf Latif, a spokesman for the National Search and Rescue Agency confirmed.

Lion Air flight JT610 requested to return to base, with air traffic control losing contact with the pilots after approving the request, Yohanes Sirait, a spokesman for the country’s air navigation authorities said.

A tugboat crew in Karawang has now reported seeing debris of a plane in the water, and a vessel belonging to Indonesia energy firm Pertamina official has reported seeing more debris, including plane seats, near its offshore facility in the Java Sea.

Indonesia transport ministry official says it was carrying 189 people — including two infants and its crew.

Pictures and video released by Indonesian Disaster Mitigation Agency appear to show personal items including a bag, phone and documentation among suspected debris from the crashed plane.

Indonesian Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) chief, M Syaugi said the agency had already found other debris from the aircraft including mobile phones and buoys.

He said the aircraft lost contact at 34 nautical miles from the Basarnas office in Jakarta and the agency had immediately deployed boats and a helicopter to search.

Once we arrived at the co-ordinates we found aircraft debris, buoys, handphones as well as some other pieces. It was around two nautical miles from the co-ordinates given by air traffic control, Mr Syaugi said.

We are there now, our vessels and helicopter, to give assistance.

The water there is around 30 to 35 metres deep. We are now still trying to dive to find the aircraft. Hopefully the process would not take long.

Friends and relatives prayed and hugged each other as they waited at Pangkal Pinang’s airport.

At the National Search and Rescue Agency headquarters in Jakarta, family members turned up, hoping desperately for news.

We are here to find any information about my younger sister, her fiance, her in-law to be and a friend of them, Feni said.

We don’t have any information, she said, as her father wiped tears from reddened eyes.

No one provided us with any information that we need. We’re confused. We hope that our family is still alive, she said.

Indonesia’s Finance Minister Sri Mulyanialso arrived at the agency and met with its chief, seeking information about 20 finance ministry staff who were on the flight.

Indonesian Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) spokesman, Yusuf Latif, said the aircraft has crashed near Tanjung Karawang in the waters off West Java.

It has crashed in the waters in West Java. Our team has been deployed, Mr Latif said.

The Lion Air plane lost contact with air traffic controllers at 6.33am. Flight JT-610 took off from the Jakarta airport at 6.20am local time and lost contact at 6.33am. The Boeing 737 was originally scheduled to arrive at Pangkal Pinang at 7.20am.

A shipping traffic officer in Tanjung Priok, North Jakarta, Suyadi, said that he has received a report from a tugboat, AS Jaya II, that the crew had seen a downed plane in Tanjung Bungin in Karawang, West Java.

At 7.15am the tugboat reported it had approached the site and the crew saw the debris of a plane, Suyadi said.

Two other ships, a tanker and a cargo ship, near the location were approaching the site, he said, and a Basarnas rescue boat was also on the way.

Indonesian Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) chief, M Syaugi said the agency had found debris. He said the aircraft lost contact at 34 nautical miles (63km) from the Basarnas office in Jakarta and the agency had immediately deployed boats and a helicopter to search.

Once we arrived at the co-ordinates we found aircraft debris, buoys, handphones as well as some other pieces. It was around two nautical miles (4km) from the co-ordinates given by air traffic control, Mr Syaugi said.

The Flightradar website tracked the plane, showing it looping south on takeoff and then heading north before the flight path ended abruptly over the Java Sea, not far from the coast.

It says final telemetry from the aircraft indicates it was in a rapid descent.

The plane involved was a Boeing Co 737 Max-8 model. The aircraft is believed to be just two months old, and a significantly updated version over older 737 models.

Lion Air said the pilot and co-pilot of the plane had a combined total of 11,000 hours flying time.

Boeing said in a statement it was deeply saddened by the loss of Flight JT 610.

We express our concern for those on board, and extend heartfelt sympathies to their families and loved ones, the statement read.

Boeing stands ready to provide technical assistance to the accident investigation.

Weather is unlikely to have contributed to the accident. There were thunderstorms in the general area, there were none close to where the plane apparently vanished from radar.

The Australian Embassy in Jakarta is making urgent inquiries with local authorities to determine if any Australians were affected, a Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman told News Corp.

Indonesian authorities say the 737 was carrying 178 adults, 1 child, two infants, six flight attendants and the captain and co-pilot. Indonesia’s finance ministry says 20 of its officials were among the passengers.

Just six months ago, a Lion Air plane skidded off the runway at Djalaluddin Airport in Gorontalo, Indonesia. None of the 174 passengers and seven crew members suffered injuries, with the incident destroying the plane’s landing gear.

In 2013 a Lion Air jet with a rookie pilot at the controls undershot the runway and crashed into the sea in Bali, splitting the plane in two. Several people were injuredin the crash, although no one was killed.

The last major accident in Indonesia was in December 2014 when AirAsia Indonesia’s Airbus A320 aircraft crashed into the waters after taking off from Surabaya to Singapore with 162 people on board.

Indonesia relies heavily on air transport to connect its thousands of islands but has a poor aviation safety record and has suffered several fatal crashes in recent years.

A 12-year-old boy was the sole survivor of a plane crash that killed eight people in mountainous eastern Indonesia in August.

In August 2015, a commercial passenger aircraft operated by Indonesian carrier Trigana crashed in Papua due to bad weather, killing all 54 people on board.

The European Union banned Lion Air from entering the airspace of any member state in 2006 after being deemed unsafe due to a poor safety record.

The EU lifted the ban in 2016, and in September this year, the International Civil Aviation Organisation gave the airline a top safety ranking.

Global airline rating agency AirlineRatings.com also moved the Indonesia-based carrier to its top safety tier.

Tourism Observer

Sunday 28 October 2018

UAE: Guest Checks In Hotel With A Dead Mans ID

A jobless man has been accused of using a dead man’s Emirates ID to rent a room at a hotel and stay for free, heard a court on Thursday.

An Indian concierge was said to have checked in the 27-year-old Emirati man and his friend at a room in the hotel at Al Ghusais in September.

Two days later when the concierge called up the room to check if the Emirati resident wanted to extend his stay, according to records, no one responded.

The concierge then called up the number that he had been provided before he was told that the person he was asking about had died three years ago.

Prosecutors charged the suspect with using a dead man’s Emirates ID, forging the dead man’s signature while signing on the hotel’s check-in papers.

The Indian concierge reported the matter to the police.

Primary interrogations led to the arrest of the 27-year-old Emirati while his accomplice remained at large.

Prosecutors charged the 27-year-old suspect with using a dead man’s Emirates ID, forging the dead man’s signature while signing on the hotel’s check-in papers.

According to the charge sheet, prosecutors said the suspect committed the crime with another suspect, who remains at large.

The 27-year-old suspect pleaded not guilty when he showed up before the Dubai Court of First Instance.

Presiding judge Habib Awad will hand out a judgement on November 22.

The Indian witness testified to prosecutors: The suspect and his friend came to the reception and wanted to check in. The suspect handed me the Emirates ID and I registered the details.

He then signed on the check-in form for two nights. Two days later, I called up the room to check if they wanted to extend their stay nobody responded.

When I called up the provided mobile number, I was told that the person whose name was on the ID had died three years back. Then I reported the matter to the police.

Tourism Observer

UNITED KINGDOM: Helicopter Crash In Leicester

Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha
The Leicester City owner's helicopter has crashed in a car park outside the club's ground as it left the stadium following a Premier League match.

Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha was in the helicopter when it came down at about 20:30 BST on Saturday.

One witness said he saw Leicester player Kasper Schmeichel run out of the stadium towards the scene of the crash.

It is not known how many other people were on board the helicopter.

Leicester had drawn 1-1 against West Ham United at the King Power Stadium.

The game kicked off at 17:30 and finished about one hour before the helicopter took off.

Under Mr Srivaddhanaprabha's ownership, Leicester City won the Premier League in 2016, having started the season as 5,000/1 outsiders.

Leicestershire Police said officers were working alongside the other emergency services, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) and Leicester City FC to establish the circumstances of the collision.

In the early hours of Sunday the force tweeted that the AAIB, which said it had sent a team to the stadium, was leading the investigation.

Leicester City said the club was assisting police and emergency services and would issue a more detailed statement in due course.

Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha

- Father of four

- Bought Leicester City in 2010 for £39m

- Billionaire and founder of duty-free consortium King Power International

- Ranked as the fifth richest person in Thailand by Forbes Magazine

- Under his ownership, the club won the Premier League in 2016 and reached the Champions League quarter finals a year later

Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha born on 4 April 1958, is a Thai billionaire businessman, founder, owner and chairman of King Power Duty Free. He has been the owner of Premier League football club Leicester City since 2010.

Srivaddhanaprabha is the founder and CEO of King Power Duty Free, an operator of duty-free shops. In December 2009, King Power received the royal warrant from the King of Thailand in a ceremony attended by Raksriaksorn.

He is ranked by Forbes magazine as the 7th richest man in Thailand, reportedly worth US$3.3 billion.

In August 2010, the Asia Football Investments consortium including Srivaddhanaprabha and his son Aiyawatt purchased English Football League Championship club Leicester City.

He succeeded Milan Mandarić as chairman of the club in February 2011 while continuing as owner, and Aiyawatt became the vice chairman. In July 2011, the club's formerly named Walkers Stadium was renamed the King Power Stadium.

Leicester City went on to win the 2015–16 Premier League title. Shortly before the 2016–17 season, Vichai gifted 19 BMW i8s to the players of Leicester City at £100,000 each as a gift for winning the title.

In May 2017, he bought his second football club, OH Leuven in Belgium.

In his spare time he is an avid polo player, and owns the VR Polo Club in Bangkok. He was the president of Ham Polo Club in London from 2008 to 2012.

Srivaddhanaprabha was born into a Thai Chinese family. He is married to Aimon Srivaddhanaprabha, with whom he has four children: Voramas, Apichet, Arunroong, and Aiyawatt.

In 2012, the King of Thailand Bhumibol Adulyadej bestowed the family new surname of Srivaddhanaprabha. The name means 'light of progressive glory' in the Thai language.

On 27 October 2018, Srivaddhanaprabha's helicopter crashed outside the King Power Stadium, shortly after taking off from the pitch.

It is confirmed by sources close to the family that Srivaddhanaprabha was inside the crash Helicopter.

Tourism Observer

PHILIPPINES: Boracay Reopens, But Boozing At The Beach Banned

Say goodbye to beach parties and water sports when the white-sand resort of Boracay Island in the central Philippines reopens to tourists on Friday after a six-month shutdown.

Our guests can expect a better Boracay when it comes to maintaining a high environmental standard, Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat said via Facebook messenger. Please manage your expectations, she added in a word of advice to tourists expecting the same Boracay.

Drinking and smoking in public places will be banned, along with the late-night parties that have made the island one of Asia's top tourism destinations.

Jet skis and other water sports will be banned until further notice, and sand castle making will be regulated, according to a Twitter advisory by Cebu Air Inc. Confirmed bookings with accredited hotels will be required before being allowed entry to the island.

The number of visitors will be capped at 6,405 arrivals per day while only 19,000 tourists will be allowed on the island at any given time, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said.

The Philippines opens the doors on Friday (Oct 26) to a spruced up and newly regulated Boracay, its famous holiday island that was shuttered to mend decades of harm caused by unchecked tourism.

The white sand idyll was closed to visitors in April after President Rodrigo Duterte called it a "cesspool" tainted by raw sewage flowing from hotels and restaurants straight into the sea.

But the re-christened resort has a slew of new rules that restrict boozing on the beach, limit the number of tourists and hotels, all while a renovation spree is ongoing.

Among the first visitors to land just after dawn on Friday were first-timers attracted by the prospect of a cleaner, less crowded island.

Once a quiet hideaway favoured by backpackers, the tiny island was transformed by overdevelopment into a mass destination seeing some two million visitors per year.

Even if there are many renovations and it's not yet perfect, when you go to the beach you realise that closing it for six months was worth it.

Under the new rules, the beachfront is cleared of the masseuses, vendors, bonfires and even the builders of its famous photo-op sandcastles it was once crowded with.

Buildings were bulldozed and businesses pushed back to create a 30m buffer zone from the waterline.

Construction is everywhere with road repairs, hotels and resort renovations happening around the island.

All water sports, save for swimming, are also banned for the time being, while Boracay's three casinos have been permanently shut down in line with Duterte's wishes.

Boracay, which major tourist magazines consistently rate as among the world's best beaches, measures a mere 1,000 hectares.

Yet, it was seeing up to 40,000 tourists at peak times, with tourists spending US$1 billion a year but also leaving mountains of garbage and an overflowing sewer system.

The new rules say 19,200 tourists will be allowed on the island at any one time, with the government aiming to enforce that by controlling the number of available hotel rooms.

Nearly 400 hotels and restaurants deemed to violate local environmental laws have already been ordered closed and airlines as well as ferries were told to restrict service to the area.

Drinking and smoking are banned on the beach and the huge multi-day beach parties dubbed LaBoracay that drew tens of thousands of tourists during the May 1 Labour Day weekend will be a thing of the past.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said last week she hopes the new Boracay will be the start of a "culture of sustainable tourism" in the Philippines, adding other tourist destinations will be next.

The Boracay Foundation, the main business industry group on the island, has not commented on the restrictions but welcomed the return of tourists.

Everyone, big and small, has sacrificed a lot during the six-month closure, its executive director Pia Miraflores said.

Tens of thousands of workers were left unemployed when the island's tourism machine was deprived of visitors.

Other places in the region strained by mass tourism have also used closures as a tactic to protect the sites from destruction.

Tourism Observer

USA: Marriott Workers On Strike

Marriott International hotel employees on strike in Chicago have been joined by thousands of workers in San Francisco and Boston, who are picketing the company in a bid for higher wages and improved benefits.

Marriott has 850 company-managed hotels in the U.S. and Canada. It has 140,000 managed employees in the USA.

Workers at all seven of Marriott’s hotels in Boston—an estimated 1,500 employees—have walked away from their positions as part of what Unite Here Local 2 union organizers are calling the first ever hotel strike in the city.

The hotels affected by the strike include the Ritz Carlton, Boston; the Westin Boston Waterfront; and the Sheraton Boston.

The company declined to address the union’s specific demands but said in a written statement that it is disappointed that Unite Here has chosen to resort to a strike instead of attempting to resolve these disputes at the bargaining table.

While the union is not opposed to technology, it is asking for workers to be involved in discussions over how automation is adopted.

We want to be equal partners so we have a voice in how that technology can be supportive of workers rather than disruptive.

“During the strike our hotels are open, we have contingency plans in place and are activating those plans. We stand ready to serve our guests,” the company said. “While we respect our associates’ rights to participate in this work stoppage, we also will welcome any associate who chooses to continue to work.”

Leaders of Unite Here Local 26 claim its members can no longer afford to live and work in Boston due to stagnated wages, and argue that Marriott can afford to increase worker pay.

The union claims many workers are forced to take on more than one job, and new contract proposals from Marriott fail to improve the situation. In a statement, Marriott said its new contract proposal for union workers is in line with what was expected.

We are disappointed that Unite Here has chosen to resort to a strike at this time. Marriott’s current economic proposal matches the economic terms in the parties’ last contract, which included the largest increases in the parties’ bargaining history, a spokesperson from Marriott said in a statement.

During the strike our hotels are open, and we stand ready to provide excellent service to our guests. While we respect our associates’ rights to participate in this work stoppage, we also will welcome any associate who chooses to continue to work.

In Northern California, Unite Here Local 2 is leading roughly 2,500 Marriott hotel workers in picketing outside of seven hotels in downtown San Francisco.

These properties are the Marriott Union Square, the Palace Hotel, the W San Francisco, the Westin St. Francis Union Square, the San Francisco Marriott Marquis, the Courtyard San Francisco Downtown and the St. Regis San Francisco.

Workers at the San Jose Marriott have also joined in the strike.

For too long Marriott workers have struggled to get by, forced to work multiple jobs, sustaining workplace injuries, and having their hours cut, just to get by, D. Taylor, president of the Unite Here union, said in a statement.

Today, thousands of Unite Here workers are in the streets striking Marriott across the country because Unite Here workers believe one job should be enough to live on.

Meanwhile, strikes are ongoing at nine downtown Chicago hotels nearly a month after workers walked out. Marriott reached an agreement with the union early in the process, but workers continue to picket at three Hyatt Hotels Corporation hotels and several others.

From Unite Here’s comments, the root of these strikes lie in economic discrepancies that the hotel industry is well aware of.

In mid-September, members of the Hospitality Asset Managers Association said the labor market remains a major challenge for hotel operators, with rising labor costs and a need for skilled workers an ongoing concern.

These concerns were echoed at last month’s Lodging Conference, where Trump Hotel Group CEO Eric Danziger said the industry has failed to create positions that are attractive to U.S. workers.

The main reason these positions remain unattractive, he said, can be attributed to long hours, low pay and a lack of competitive benefits.

Furthermore, as of April 2018 the U.S. unemployment rate reached 3.9 percent, meaning dissatisfied employees have the option of seeking new positions, and labor unions likely believe unemployment figures place them in a favorable position to bargain.

In a statement, Ted Waechter, a spokesman for San Francisco’s Unite Here union, said the city’s workers have no plan to capitulate.

We’re going to stay on the lines until workers no longer have to work two or three jobs, Waechter said in a statement. This is not a limited-duration strike. We’re in it for the long haul.

CANADA: Air Canada Signs 15 Year Lease Worth C$19 Million For Multi Tenant Facility.

Air Canada broke ground today on a new facility that will house its ground support equipment service and cargo teams at Edmonton International Airport (YEG). The new, 4,645-square-meter facility being built by Terracap Group is set to open in September 2019.

Air Canada signed a 15-year lease for the multi-tenant facility, worth C$19 million by the airline over the term of the lease. Air Canada Cargo will occupy a 1,858 square meters, while Air Canada’s ground support team will occupy the remaining 2,787 square meters.

In 2017, Air Canada Cargo handled 3.2 million kilograms of goods, including pharmaceuticals, mail, art, and oil and gas industry equipment through its Edmonton cargo facility.

Apart from the cargo facilities, the ground support portion of the new warehouse has five maintenance bays to facilitate Air Canada’s approximately 167 vehicles in use at YEG.

Edmonton is a strategic distribution point for the oil and gas industry here in the province, in this cargo facility, Kevin Howlett, Air Canada senior vice president, regional markets & government relations, said.

All of the necessary ground equipment that we use in the course of our airport operations, including our cargo operations, will be supported in this facility.

There will also be dedicated areas for specialized electrical repairs, year-round equipment painting, welding, hazardous material handling and training.

Cargo is a really important component of even the passenger flights. The more revenue per aircraft, the more additional flights we get over time.

Air Canada said its cargo handled 3.2 million kilograms of goods in 2017 through its Edmonton facility, including pharmaceuticals, mail, art and oil and gas industry equipment.

EIA said Air Canada is offering more than 290 flights each week to 12 destinations in North America this fall, including direct flights to Las Vegas and San Francisco.

In March, Air Canada announced it was launching daily, direct flight options to Las Vegas from the EIA. The flights are scheduled to begin this Sunday onboard an Air Canada Rouge A319.

In late 2017, the airline launched a plan to provide daily non-stop, flights between Edmonton and San Francisco.

There’s been a lot of development at the EIA this year, including the opening of a Costco warehouse in August, the opening of the Premium Outlet Collection EIA mall in May and a new five-storey, 135-room and suite Fairfield Inn by Marriott is under development and scheduled to be complete in early 2019.

The Supreme Court of Canada cleared the way for a class-action lawsuit against Air Canada and British Airways to proceed by dismissing an appeal by Canada's largest airline.

Air Canada had sought to overturn an October 2017 Ontario Court of Appeal ruling that the class action could include foreign claimants despite playing out in Ontario courts.

The decade-old lawsuit from three companies alleges price fixing by major airlines involved in air freight shipping between 2000 and 2006.

Linda Visser, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, says they have reached settlements totalling more than $29 million with all 14 defendants except Air Canada and British Airways.

Visser says the lawsuit involves up to tens of thousands of class members, many of them exporters and freight forwarders that handle shipments ranging from flowers to zoo animals.

The plaintiffs are Ontario's Airia Brands Inc., Britain's Startech.Com Ltd. and Germany's Quick Cargo Service.

The airline signed a 15-year lease for the facility, which is expected to open in Sept. 2019.

Tourism Observer

Tuesday 23 October 2018

MALDIVES: Tourism Is Maldives' Largest Revenue Generator, Personal Belongings Can Be Stolen In Hotels Or At Beaches

Statistics show most number of tourists arrived to Maldives from European countries this year.

107,620 tourists arrived to Maldives in September, raising the total tourist arrivals to 1,080,459 so far this year, according to statistics compiled from tourist facilities registered at Ministry of Tourism and Maldives Immigration.

Moreover, most number of tourist arrivals were from European countries with 47.8% of the total arrivals, according to statistics compiled until end of September.

In this regard, 516,487 tourists arrived from Europe this year, which is an increase of 47.8% compared to the first 9 months of last year.

Second most number of tourist arrivals to Maldives during this period was from the Asia Pacific, recording 462,828 tourists, which is 41.5% of the total arrivals. This is recorded as an increase of 2.1% compared to the first 9 months of last year.

Meanwhile, America with 49,000 tourists, attaining 4.5% of the total arrivals, is recorded as the third most tourist arriving region.

Moreover, 41,186 tourists arrived from Middle East and 10,820 tourists arrived from Africa, recording 3.8% and 1% of the total arrivals respectively.

When highlighting separate markets, top 10 highest markets which recorded the most number of arrivals were China with 20.6%, England with 7.7%, Germany with 7.4%, Italy with 6.8%, India with 5.2%, Russia with 4.7%, France with 3.4%, USA with 2.8%, Japan with 2.8% and Australia with 2.6%, according to the statistics.

From these markets, even though the tourist arrivals from China were slightly decreased, other markets experienced an increase in the arrivals.

Furthermore, until September 2018, while 43,356 beds were registered at the tourism ministry, 42,091 beds were operated with the total bed nights spent in Maldives by tourists increasing to 11.8%.

Tourist arrivals to the Maldives rose 19 percent in February compared to the same period of last year, despite a string of travel advisories issued during the ongoing state of emergency, local media reported Monday.

According to statistics released by the Maldivian Tourism Ministry, 144,286 tourists visited the holiday islands in February, up 19.2 percent from the same month last year.

China remains the leading market with the most number of tourist arrivals with 33,506 visitors in February. This is a 38 percent rise compared to February last year, the ministry said.

Italy was the second largest market with 13,962 visitors, while the UK had 11,362 visitors to the Maldives in February.

Europe made the biggest contribution to Maldives' tourism industry during the past two months with 54.4 percent of the total visitors.

The Maldives welcomed a record 1.3 million tourists last year.

Tourism is the largest economic industry in the Maldives, as it plays an important role in earning foreign exchange revenues and generating employment in the tertiary sector of the country.

The archipelago of the Maldives is the main source of attraction to many tourists visiting the country worldwide.

Tourism in the Maldives has started in 1972 with only three hotels, now – there are more than 100 operational resorts. The unique condition of Maldives is that one island is one resort, meaning that one hotel occupies the whole island.

By doing so, resorts provide more privacy and more luxury for their visitors. The Maldives are also trying to stay eco-friendly and use more of solar energy rather than diesel.

The Maldives provide facilities and services, entertainment and telecommunication services, they also provide numerous resorts, hotels, guest houses, and liveboards.

A tourist resort in the Maldives typically consists of an exclusive hotel on its own island, with its population entirely made up of tourists and work force, with no local people or houses.

Those islands developed for tourism are typically 800 by 200 metres in size, and are composed of sand and coral to a maximum height of about 2 metres above the sea.

In addition to its beach encircling the island, each island has its own "house reef" which serves as a coral garden and natural aquarium for scuba divers and snorkelers.

The shallow water enclosed by the house reef also serves as a large natural swimming pool and protects swimmers from the ocean waves and strong tidal currents outside the house reef.

The buildings on a typical resort include rooms and suites reserved for use by its guests, restaurants, coffee shops, shops, lounges, bars, discos and diving schools.

A portion of the island also contains staff lodgings and support services such as catering, power generators, laundry, and a sewage plant.

On island shops offer a wide range of products, such as souvenirs and artifacts. Most resorts offer a wide variety of activities such as aerobics, volleyball and table tennis.

The Maldives' economy is greatly influenced by any climate changes. Tourism sector can be damaged by the increased likelihood of violent storms, damage to coral reefs, and beach erosion, which are now more likely to happen because of the rising seas.

As a consequence of climate change, Maldives is now facing the problem of rising seas and coral reefs bleaching. According to the World Bank, with future sea levels projected to increase in the range of 10 to 100 centimeters by the year 2100, the entire country could be submerged.

New government has made a decision to fight the rising seas problem with geoengineering projects instead of trying to move the population. The idea is to rent out other islands and even build new islands, so the population of those islands who are more in trouble could be relocated.

One of those built islands is Hulhumale.

It has been also pointed out that some islands can grow naturally.

World Bank states that, Rising sea temperatures also threaten the coral reefs and cause bleaching and death, with the most severe damage in areas that are stressed by pollutants, or damaged by physical disturbance.

Vulnerability to climate change hazards has been magnified by damage to coral reefs which has in turn impaired their protective function, thus a negative cycle of impact.

There is some promotion of ecotourism in the Maldives, with resorts emphasizing recycling of heat that is wasted in producing electricity and stricter policies of waste disposal.

Furthermore, the government aims to conserve the natural environment of the islands before they made into resorts by enforcing laws such as prohibition of catching turtles and reduction in the damage caused to the coral reefs.

Nevertheless, the Maldives have frequently come under criticism for their lack of protection of the local shark populations, which have sharply decreased after being hunted extensively for decades.

In some areas, sharks have entirely disappeared. Sharks are hunted primarily for their fins. Shark fins are exported from the Maldives to other countries in Asia, where they are regarded as a delicacy. The fins are amputated from the live animals, which are then thrown back alive into the sea.

Although this practice is prohibited by law in the Maldives, these laws are not respected or enforced by the local authorities.

In 2001, a local environmental organization called Seamarc/Marine savers also known onsite as Reefscapers, set up an ambitious program of reimplantation of coral in damaged areas, on the basis of resort sponsorship.

Many thousands of tourist-sponsored coral frames have been successfully transplanted in many resort reefs like Kuda Huraa and Landaa Giraavaru, and are under close survey by marine scientists; they are a refuge for thousands of tropical species, and help to preserve and recover these fragile ecosystems.

There are big challenges that come with the advantages of the islands' tourist assets, however, said Richard Damania, World Bank Lead Environmental Economist.

The country's coral reefs, which protect it from storm surges and serve as the main attraction for the tourism-driven economy, are in danger of being damaged or destroyed by poorly handled waste disposal methods.

The Maldives are known for their natural environment including the blue ocean, white beaches, and clean air.

The climate of the Maldives is ideal for visitors to get engaged in water sports such as swimming, fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling, water-skiing. windsurfing and kite boarding.

The natural environment of the Maldives attracts tourists all over the world and every year. Its tourism industry is today the Maldives' largest revenue generator.

Due to their extraordinary underwater scenery and clean water, the Maldives is ranked among the best recreational diving destinations of the world, with over 60 local dive sites across the islands.

It was also reported to be the world's most desired honeymoon destination, according to a global survey by Agoda.com.

The level of crime in the Maldives is low, but some personal belongings left on the beaches or in the hotels can be stolen.

Knife crime in populated areas, like the capital Male, has increased. Tourists should also follow local advice on if there is any danger with swimming.

Some piracy and armed robbery attacks have also occurred in the area of Gulf of Aden and Horn of Africa. A threat of terrorism is possible, the targets can include: government buildings, schools, places of worship, airports, public places, etc.

On February 5, 2018, the government has declared a state of emergency due to the increased protests and aggressive clashes with the police in Male.

Tourism Observer

MALDIVES: Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort Set To Open 2019

The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort has been officially brought to the market.

Located on a beautiful coral island in the Baa Atoll which is a designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserve site; the Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort features 70 villas and suites, 41 on island and 29 over water.

With the opening of the Miriandhoo Resort, the number of resort in Baa Atoll has risen to 16.

Developed by award-winning Milan-based architects PEIA Associati, the resort's design took inspiration from the ocean with a visionary approach towards environmental sustainability.

Marriott International is set to launch its Westin brand in Maldives with the opening of The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort in 2019.

Scheduled to open in February 2019, The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort is being developed on the uninhabited island of Miriandhoo in the central Baa atoll.

The island is accessible by a scenic 40-minute seaplane flight from the main Velana International Airport or a domestic flight to the airport on the nearby Dharavandhoo island followed by a further 20-minute speedboat ride.

Designed by Italian studio Peia Associati, The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort will boast innovative architecture and sophisticated interiors that feature precious local materials.

Timber from neighbouring countries will complete the external finishing and frames, including the light structure part of a double skin system building.

These natural shelters will have an innovative organic shape, and provide natural ventilation as well as lighter natural skins and comfortable shading.

The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort, located in the Maldives first and only UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, will have 70 luxurious villas and suites fitted with the signature Westin Heavenly Bed that allows guests to refuel their body and mind with truly restorative sleep.

The resort will also come with the fully-equipped Westin Workout that maintain and maximise the guest workout routine, with the brand’s world-class fitness studio, Gear Lending with New Balance and local running maps.

The Heavenly by Westin Spa at The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort will be designed to awaken the senses, with services and amenities that are relaxing and rejuvenating in order to leave guests feeling fresh, energised and focused.

The resort is jointly owned by Sri Lanka’s largest investment bank Asia Capital Plc and Japanese mail order company Belluna Co., Ltd. The project is expected to cost USD 45 million.

Westin, a brand that was acquired by Marriott through its merger with Starwood Hotels and Resorts, runs hotels and resorts that are designed to enhance guests’ well-being through revitalising amenities and innovative programmes that help them be at their best while on the road.

Marriott runs several resorts in the Maldives, including The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort, Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort and Spa, and W Maldives.

The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort joins a number of new resorts set to open in 2019, including AVANI Fares Maldives Resort by Thailand-based Minor Hotels and Hilton’s Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi Resort.

Tourism Observer

MALDIVES: ONYX Hospitality Group To Launch OZO Maldives Resort

One of the region's leading hotel management companies, ONYX Hospitality Group, has signed an agreement with a joint venture company led by Indian-based Panchshil Realty and Developers Private Limited to launch OZO Maldives.

Scheduled to open in the third quarter of 2020, the 200-villa private island resort will occupy a secluded island in the Raa Atoll, located northwest of the Maldivian capital of Male' City.

Positioned as a family-oriented resort, OZO Maldives will bear all the signatures which define an OZO.

This including an enhanced sleep experience, smart connectivity of personal devices in both private spaces and public areas, and curated destination and activity tips by enthusiastic and informed team members.

Featuring design elements and experience touch points inspired by a fictitious castaway explorer named Sebastian King III, who was an artist and amateur sailor who was shipwrecked and lived alone on the island for eight years before allowing himself to be discovered.

OZO Maldives will immerse travellers in a reinterpretation of the legacy he left behind through a series of structures, shelters and landmarks Sebastian creatively constructed from island-sourced raw materials and flotsam washed ashore over the years.

The resort will be opened with 60 water villas and 140 beach villas.

Tourism Observer

MALDIVES: Raffles Maldives Meradhoo Resort Opening February 2019

Raffles Hotel and Resorts prepares to open its debut resort in Maldives by the end of the year.

Raffles Hotels and Resorts is a chain of luxury hotels owned by AccorHotels, a French multinational hospitality company. Raffles Maldives Meradhoo Resort is also its first resort in South Asia.

The resort formerly run as Jumeira Dhevanafushi by Dubai Holdings have been re-branded by AccorHotels. After re-branding, Raffles Maldives Meradhoo Resort will be opened for operation as a five-star property.

Hidden away at the Southern end of Maldives, Raffles Maldives Meradhoo Resort features abundant foliage and unparalleled service.

Raffles Maldives Meradhoo Resort is located at a 55-minute flight from Velana International Airport (VIA) followed by a 15-minute speed boat ride from Kaadedhdhoo Airport in Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll.

The resort will offer luxurious stays in villas with private pools, steps from clear lagoon waters and sandy beaches.

The island will also offer water sports facilities for guests such as fishing, diving and windsurfing activities.

Raffles Maldives Meradhoo appointed Olivier Larcher as the resort’s General Manager, ahead of its opening.

A native of France, Larcher brings with him over two decades of experience in luxury hospitality, having worked with renowned international hospitality brands such as Starwood Hotels and Resorts, Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts, Hilton Hotels and Resorts, and Dalian Wanda Group.

His career has taken him to places such as South Africa, Morocco, China and Bora Bora.

Prior to taking up the General Manager’s post at Raffles Maldives Meradhoo in April, Larcher served as the General Manager of Sofitel Foshan in China for two years — his first posting with AccorHotels.

We are excited to be launching AccorHotels’ first flagship Raffles property in the Maldives and welcome Larcher aboard, Gilles Cretallaz, Vice President of Operations, Luxury Brands for Upper Southeast Asia, Northeast Asia and the Maldives at AccorHotels, was quoted in a statement, as saying.

He demonstrates an immense passion for refined resorts in unique and cultural destinations and is a strategic new member of our executive team in the Maldives.

The French multinational hotel group took over the management of the existing resort on the island of Meradhoo from Dubai-based hospitality group Jumeirah in September, with plans to reposition the luxury resort under the iconic Raffles Hotels and Resorts brand.

Set to open February 2019 after major enhancements to the existing Dhevanafushi Maldives Luxury Resort Managed by AccorHotels.

Raffles Maldives Meradhoo Resort boasts 21 island villas and 16 ocean villas with private pools, three restaurants, a scenic cocktail bar and an array of facilities and activities to relax, rejuvenate and reinvigorate the body, mind and spirit.

These facilities include an award-winning luxury spa, overwater fitness centre, yoga programmes, water sports, private dining options, 24-hour butler and private chef service, along with snorkelling and diving at its finest.

The resort’s PADI-certified dive centre offers adventures through the wonders of some of most breath-taking coral reefs in the world.

A 55-minute flight from the main Velana International Airport and a 15-minute speedboat transfer can access the resort, located on Meradhoo island in Gaafu Alifu atoll.

A newcomer to the Maldives booming tourism industry, AccorHotels is on a major expansion drive, with three existing properties and two under development in the island nation.

Tourism Observer

MALDIVES: Universal Aviation Maldives Starts Business In November

Worldwide ground support division of Universal Weather and Aviation, Inc., Universal Aviation, has announced its newest location, Universal Aviation Maldives, will begin operations by the end of November this year.

Universal Aviation Maldives is headquartered at Velana International Airport (VIA) and is a joint venture location with multi-award winning travel company, Inner Maldives Holidays, which have been providing tourism and travel services to the booming tourism industry in the Maldives since 1998.

Upon opening, Universal Aviation Maldives will become Universal Aviation's eighth location in the Asia-Pacific region.

Chairman of Universal Weather and Aviation, Inc. Greg Evans stated Maldives is a popular but potentially challenging destination for clients and it was important to identify a partner Maldives that will not only reduce customers' risk and stress on the ground but provide them with an unforgettable experience through pro-active trip management, versus relying solely on third-parties.

Meanwhile, Managing Director of Universal Aviation Maldives Abdulla Ghiyas expressed tourism is a major reason for much of the corporate jet aviation traffic to the Maldives, adding the team members are trained to Universal Aviation's ground support standards.

Team members are also experts in local tourism and can help arrange discounts for crews on local hotels, air transport and tours.

The main operation centre of Universal Aviation Maldives will also provide supervisory services at all airports throughout the Maldives including Gan International Airport, Maamigili Airport and Hanimaadhoo International Airport.

Universal Weather and Aviation, Inc. is a privately held company headquartered in Houston, Texas that provides products and services for the general aviation industry. Its customers include owners and operators of business jets for corporate and personal air travel.

The company offers products and services including international flight planning and scheduling, weather briefings, fueling programs, aircraft ground handling, and aviation security. It is the oldest company in the corporate flight planning industry.

Universal Weather was founded in 1959 by Tom Evans. Greg Evans, his son, is Universal Weather's chairman and owner. Ralph Vasami serves as the company's chief executive officer. The company operated in more than 50 locations in 20 countries.

Universal Weather was founded in Dallas, Texas in 1959 by Tom Evans, a former United States Air Force officer and meteorologist. Universal Weather was originally based out of Dallas Love Field in Dallas, Texas and was the first company to provide customized weather forecasting for business aviation.

The company moved to Houston, Texas a year later. For its first ten years Universal Weather was only involved in weather forecasting. New services were added gradually as the business aviation industry grew.

Greg Evans, son of founder Tom Evans, became company president and chief executive officer in 2001. He had worked at the company for the previous 22 years and was responsible for the company's prior expansion into Europe and Asia.

Ralph Vasami became president of the company in 2004. Vasami had worked at Universal Weather since he had interned at the company's New York City weather office and had most recently served as its chief operating officer. He would later become chief executive officer of the company.

In 2007, Universal Weather donated flight planning and weather to Barrington Irving's then-world record solo flight around the world.

Universal Weather's services assisted in preparing Irving before his trip as the youngest person to fly solo around the world, and also monitored his travels during the expedition, tracking his location and storms, and coordinating with foreign airports for permission to land.

Universal Weather acquired Air Chef Holdings, an American in-flight catering and concierge firm, in 2011. The company launched its mobile application, Universal Mobile, for free in 2012, later updating it to be current with industry trends and making it accessible for iPads.

In 2014, Universal Weather assisted Irving again providing complete flight logistics to Irving's Flying Classroom endeavor, a nine-week program of aviation expedition and education spanning over three continents.

The program also involves scheduled informational stops to Universal Weather's ground support locations.

Universal Weather and Aviation Inc. owns and operates three brands that specialize in various services related to the aviation transport industry:


UVair is the fueling division of Universal Weather and Aviation. The brand was founded in 1981 and the fuel program was initially launched in five locations including Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Le Bourget, and Madrid.

The fuel program offers Jet-A contract fuel options. Later, the division established the UVair Fueling Card that is accepted at over 5,000 locations around the world.

Universal Aviation

Universal Aviation is the ground support division of Universal Weather. Universal Weather opened its first ground handling offices in the mid-1970s in Mexico and Spain.

In the late 1990s, Universal Weather began opening a network of ground handling offices. By 2016, the brand operates over 50 locations in 20 countries.

Air Culinaire Worldwide

Air Culinaire Worldwide is the in-flight catering provider owned by Universal Weather. The culinary brand operates 21 catering kitchens around the world.

Universal Weather and Aviation Inc. Memberships and Affiliations

- National Business Aviation Association, Inc. (NBAA)

- European Business Aviation Association (EBAA)

- Middle East Business Aviation Association (MEBAA)

- Asian Business Aviation Association (AsBAA)

Tourism Observer