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Oman Air has started operations from Colombo to Male’ and is to initially conduct four flights per week.

The airline has obtained 5th freedom traffic rights between Colombo and the Maldives from January 2010 and then progress to daily flights from summer 2010.
Oman Air, the flagship carrier of the Sultanate of Oman, commenced operations in 1993 as a regional player and now offers an outstanding first and business class product, excellent service and modern fleet, positioning itself as a boutique airline in the premium segment.

The 6-StarPrime Rated Maldives World Qualifying Seriesevent, after running for 9 long years atPasta Point, North Male’ Atoll, willbe postponed for 2010, Association of SurfingProfessionals (ASP) Australasia has announced.ASP Australasia has been unable to hook asponsor to take up the Maldives event for2010 which has been highly regarded as oneof the very best events on the World QualifyingSeries.

Created in 2001 and run asthe Deep Blue Open, it was a bold initiativeby ASP Australasia at the time  andover 10 years delivered outstanding surfand an exceptional global promotion to theMaldives which now has a booming surf tourismindustry. Plans are already in place to reinstate the event for 2011.
“Withworld class, super high performance wavesand on the cusp of its 10th birthday, itis disappointing that the Maldives WQS eventwill not be featured on the 2010 ASP calendar.On a promotion, brand awareness and mediaperspective the event has always offeredan exceptional return on investment for sponsorsand we are confident that the Maldives WQSwill return for the 2011 season”, saidASP Australasia Tour Manager Dane Jordan.

Long haul tourism is expected to be back with a vengeance with far-flung destinations such as South Africa, Hawaii, the Maldives, and Dubai expected to be the most popular with British tourists, according to DialAFlight  which makes travel arrangements for almost half a million people annually and is celebrating its 30th birthday this year.

After a year in which many tourists chose to stay at home due to concerns about the economy, the prospects for the British tourism industry in 2010 are looking a lot brighter, too; Britain is Maldives’ single largest tourist market.

“… Perhaps the main reason is that the economy is recovering, and people have started to feel a bit more confident about spending… Another reason may be that people who had to scale back their holiday plans last year are looking to make up for it by making their holiday plans for 2010 especially extravagant… Also, new direct flights from British Airways to destinations such as the Maldives and Sharm el Sheik have made those places much more affordable and desirable to British tourists, and we expect to see a huge upsurge in demand for flights to those areas,” a spokesman was quoted as saying.

Cruising has been the fastest growing holiday segment of the world for the last 10 years, a top official of a cruise operating company said, adding that despite the global recession the industry was still doing well.

"Internationally cruising is the only industry which has maintained fastest growth. About 8 percent for the last 15 years year-on-year it has been growing,” Oneil Khosa, CEO, Louis Cruises India, told reporters while onboard cruise ship MV Aquamarine which recently visited Maldives under the auspices of Crown Tours Maldives and Akquasun Holidays India.

Louis Cruises India, a subsidiary of the Louis Cruises, the World's fifth largest cruise operator, has launched its operations on the Kochin-Maldives-Kochin route, eyeing to woo the Indian middle class, offering ticket prices as low as Rs5,000.
Last year about 15 to 18 million people took cruising globally and in spite of recession the industry was still doing well, he said.

Maldives is to receive 6.3 million Euros for the “Mapping of Maldives and Climate Change” project which is aimed to study the impact of global warming and sea level rise on the archipelago. The findings of the study are expected to enable Maldives to better deal with climate change and help embark on mitigation measures. French Global Environment Facility, United Nations Development Program, Global Environment Fund, World Bank and European Union are contributing to the project.

A key feature of the project will involve establishing of a network to exchange critical environmental information which will be crucial for Maldives to protect its delicate environment on which tourism, the vital industry, is based on. Though Maldives is the world’s lowest lying island state, it is also one of the most sought-after by tourists seeking paradise and peace.

The International Monetary Fund has approved a total of $92.5 million in financing to help Maldives tackle economic problems arising from the global downturn.

The island economy was hard hit by a fall in tourism, capital inflows and lower exports.
The IMF said the 36-month economic program approved by the IMF and backed up by the financing, aims to reduce the fiscal deficit but also ensure that social programs are not cut back.
It said the authorities would immediately unwind part of the recent large wage increases and introduce new measures to broaden the tax base.
The Fund said the government also intends to rebuild international reserves to "prudent levels" while maintaining the current exchange rate peg to the U.S. dollar.

M/S Aquamarine is to arrive in Male’ today at 5pm local time.Akquasun Holidays India, together with Crown Tours Maldives, will handle all its shore excursions while in Male’.

Maldives Tourism Promotion Board (MTPB) has organized a welcoming ceremony which will be participated by Tourism Minister Dr. Ahmed Ali Sawad.
M/S Aquamarine, from Louis Cruises India, is registered in Greece and has 525 rooms with a maximum passenger capacity of 1,250.
The cruise ship will regularly visit Male’ from Kochin, India, every Thursday through Friday until end of April 2010.


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