Good evening: Mr President of the World Travel Awards; distinguished industry leaders and representatives of world travel industry, honorable Ministers, ladies and gentlemen;

I am distinctly privileged and honored to welcome all of you on behalf of the government of Maldives. Welcome to Maldives.

I wish we didn’t have so much rain tonight. But I think within the last one hour, a very famous quote from David Falcon, “let it rain even in Paradise” – I think it is something you will continue to remember after tonight.

I would like to take this opportunity, very briefly, to pay tribute to all the industry leaders and many of you who are here tonight who have made it possible to transform Maldives – a very remote and sometimes inaccessible islands of Maldives – into the world’s most famous and upmarket and most desired destinations in travel industry. There are few of you here that I would like to acknowledge particularly the pioneers of tourism in the Maldives. Please give them a big round of applause.

Your contribution has made a huge difference for the lives of people in this country and tourism today is the biggest revenue source for the Maldivian people. I hope that all my colleagues in Maldives appreciate the enormous contributions made by the founders of tourism and the dedicated people who have worked so hard over the last 40 years to make this a great success for all of us.

Tonight, I would like to congratulate those who will be receiving the World Travel Awards. We don’t know who they are yet but I’m sure that we are very lucky to be here tonight for these awards.

I would like to thank the World Travel Group, its President Mr Graham Cooke for selecting Maldives for this very prestigious event. Thank you very much and I hope you will return to Maldives again and again. Thank you for being here tonight.