How guests are looking for more than just a pretty view when they go on vacation
There are numerous benefits to be gained by providing guests with opportunities to experience a unique range of emotions while enjoying activities varying from sunrise yoga to sunset fishing, and everything in between – all available on one of the most beautiful places on earth.
We recognise that these kinds of immersive experiences are transformative in nature as they bond the Maldivian culture with that of our guests and have the power to positively and permanently change the world for the better.
Take the example of cooking classes with ladies from the surrounding Maldivian community; our guests giving lessons at local schools about their home countries; or our ‘pack to make a difference’ program where tourists preparing to visit Maldives pack extra belongings that can be given to local families in the area.
Each of these programmes, while different, provide moments for multicultural development for both the traveller and the Maldivian islanders. We like to think of it as mindful tourism –where Sun Siyam helps deepen the contribution to the community, environment and economy through the creation of transformative travel ambassadors.
The idea came about many years ago when our chairman and managing director wanted to share his passion for local culture, island nature and the resident population with our guests.
Originating from Noonu Atoll, Mr Siyam inherently knew that his success would manifest because of his dedication to the betterment of his own island and people. At the time, he didn’t know that the experiences he would offer guests would have such as profound and lasting impact on their lives.
However, we continue to receive feedback from our guests and their families about the inner-transformation that takes place from the very first time they experience their dream Maldivian holiday with us. And we continue to hear it from guests who have visited 20-30 times over the years.
Holidaymakers have experienced so many places around the world and are now looking for more than a picture-perfect moment. They are seeking to broaden their knowledge and strengthen their values, so opportunities to dive with marine biologists; plant sustainable produce; dance Bodu Beru to the beat of the drums; and survive on a deserted island with minimal food and resources, can’t be overlooked because of our guests’ desire to be more conscious, global, educated and sensitive people of the planet.
And we have found a particular interest in transformative travel, from those aged 35 years and above, who immerse themselves into the local culture, dance, handcrafts and more, with every visit. At Sun Siyam, our goal is to leave our guests feeling that they are part of something bigger than themselves.
Importantly, this trend has had an increasingly positive influence on the local community, with Maldivian youth keen to pursue a career in tourism, local ladies enthusiastic about sharing their secret recipes with international visitors, and local dancers working with guests to free them, through dance, of any worries, troubles and concerns.
The flow-on effect of immersive travel is truly extraordinary for all involved, which is why Sun Siyam will continue to identify transformative travel opportunities that bring benefit to our guests and the local Maldivian community.
Evgenia Boyankova, group director of business development with Sun Siyam Resorts, Male, Maldives, has over 15 years of experience in hospitality business development. She has managed, trained and developed teams and regional sales, marketing and PR offices in the Middle East, Europe, CIS and Asia.