The power of storytelling

The Visit Maldives Storytellers' Conference 2023 aims to show that the Maldives is more than just sun, sand, and sea, as the destination possesses a raft of other unique offerings that can Redefine MICE

Event brief
Held from May 30 to June 2, 2023, the Visit Maldives Storytellers’ Conference 2023 saw the gathering of over 70 content creators, journalists, bloggers, and media.

Conference participants were selected through a social media competition – which called on them to showcase their content creation skills by answering the question “What is your dream vacation in the Maldives?” – was held between February 25 and March 27, 2023.

The 50 winners, representing over 20 different nationalities and ethnicities, were selected by a judging panel; it included three Maldivians as well. All won conference invitations, as well as an additional 3D2N trip to eight different regions in the Maldives.

Event highlights
During the conference, participants learnt how to create compelling narratives that showcase the true essence of a destination, through insightful panel discussions, interactive workshops, and networking sessions.

Topics covered include sustainable tourism, responsible travel, cultural preservation, and the power of storytelling to promote destinations, which were presented by influential speakers such as Doug Lansky, Jessica Nabongo, Vikas Swarup, and Eleni Giokos.

The conference also featured pop-up stalls from leading artists in the Maldives, which showcased authentic Maldivian products and the skill of the talented local artisans.

Aside from the conference, participants also took part in breakout sessions to learn about sustainable tourism, and Maldivian culture and heritage.

Held at the Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort and Spa, a 30-minute speedboat ride from Crossroads, the sustainable tourism workshop focused on the sustainability efforts, such as coral propagation and coral frame building undertaken by the Maldives tourism industry.

Delegates were able to build frames, participate in a planting session, and learn about the delicate balance of marine ecosystems. And in true Redefining MICE style, participants also got to enjoy a relaxed snorkelling session at the house reef.

At another breakout session on the Atoll Villa Sandbank, participants were given a raucous welcome with boduberu music. There, they learnt about the history of fishing in the Maldives from the Maldives Industrial Fisheries Company, and the importance of tuna, a mainstay in Maldivian cuisine. Participants also watch locals showcase traditional fish-filleting skills, took part in a cooking class, and received a special culinary-themed gift basket.

The last of the breakout sessions demonstrated the ancient and peaceful way of Maldivian life in the past, and an ancient form of embroidery weaving (Kasabu Viyun). Participants also watched the retelling of one of the most popular folk stories in the Maldives – the tale of the star-crossed lovers Dhon Hiyala and Alifulhu – and wrote down their wishes on palm leaves and planted them on the shoreline.

A gala dinner was also held, which doubled as an award ceremony for the social media competitions held during the conference day to keep participants actively engaged.

Finally, conference participants were given three days to explore one of eight Maldivian regions – Raa Atoll, Laamu Atoll, Ari Atoll, Vaavu Atoll, Haa Alifu and Haa Dhaalu Atolls, Kaafu Atoll, Addu Atoll, and Fuvahmulah – and showcase the various destinations to their followers.

A major challenge was the logistics of bringing together so many individuals from all over the globe, where each spoke their own language, had different expectations of the conference, and brought with them different perspectives. Organisers worked closely with the participants to understand the story they wanted to tell, and crafted the best possible itinerary for them.

It was also a challenge to whittle down the extensive number of activities available in the Maldives, and curate the best into three-day itineraries.

Event Visit Maldives Storytellers’ Conference 2023
Organisers Maldives Marketing & PR Corporation (MMPRC/Visit Maldives)
Venue Crossroads Maldives
Date May 30 to June 2, 2023
Attendance 70 participants from over 20 countries

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