The first ever World Travel Writers’ Conference organized by Maldives TV concludes.
The one-day conference was held at Bandos Maldives resort, attended by 15 writers, bloggers, vloggers, social media celebrities and award-winning photographers from 10 different nationalities, including India, Russia, America, Ireland, United Kingdom, Philippines, Holland, and Australia.The conference consisted of keynote speeches as well as panel discussions.
The first keynote speech of the conference was delivered by New Zealand born Instagrammer and Travel Blogger, Elizabeth Carlson on sharing the experiences and the art of storytelling. In her speech, Elizabeth spoke of the importance of storytelling and why it matters and highlighted on how it is related to content marketing to the present day.
The next keynote speech was delivered by local tourism sector stakeholder, Director of Business Development at Maldives Getaways Dr Hussein Sunny Umar on the significance of cultural tourism to the archaeological history of Maldives. Speaking during the conference, Sunny noted that Maldives is commonly known as a honeymoon or family destination, but the country should be promoted for its history, which is rich and full of intrigue. He said history is a strong selling point for travel enthusiasts, and that Maldives has a lot to offer history wise.
The two keynote speeches were followed by the first-panel discussion of the World Travel Writers Conference, on the topic of “turning factual stories into crafted narratives”, which was moderated by Ibrahim Munaz. All panelists, who included Elizabeth Carlson, Claudia Tavani, Ana Patricia Velarmino, Shivya Nath and Dr Sunny Umar, agreed that positive marketing, a traveler’s account of a visit to a destination plays a major role in creating a positive image, but there is so much more to it than just standard of service. They agreed that in order to tell a positive narrative of a destination, research on the market influencer or writers has to be conducted.
Three more keynote speakers and 2 more panel discussion were also held during the conference. This includes a keynote speech by Gina Samarato and Ahmed Ijaz.
The two keynote speeches were followed by the 2nd-panel discussion moderated by Ms Mariyam Wisam. Gina Sapienza Samarotto, Stuart Vincent Forster, Cacinda Maloney, John C Yoshihara, Yulia Safutdinova and Dr Ahmed Shan. The moderator of the panel discussion began the discussion by asking the panellists a simple question. When you wanted to come to Maldives, how did you start your search? And what difference does it make? All panellists agreed to have Googled about the country, the location and what could be done there. For Gina, the cultural experience she has in Maldives was something she had not expected as it was not on the results of any search – and thus making the topic very clear, on how every travel experience starts with a search.
The last keynote speaker of the conference was delivered by Ms Janet Newenha on what bloggers do. According to Janet, bloggers or instagramers are all about sharing their life in real time. Watching and observing what a blogger is doing through social media tools such as Instagram stories, Snapchat, Facebook Live and much more. This lets their followers around the world know what they are doing exactly – connecting to what they are feeling.
Janet’s speech was followed by the last panel discussion of the conference, on the topic of “Are luxury travel destinations failing in their storytelling moderated by Dr Mariyam Waseema. Moderator started the panel by asking the panellist how destinations can be promoted through storytelling? The panellists who included, Janet Newenham, Tom Grond, Allison Green, Jayne Gorman, Shafraz Hafiz and Suresh Dissanayake, noted the importance of incorporating more components into destination marketing. They said destination marketing needs to be diversified to include more types of travellers and experiences. Destinations should be selling experiences rather than brands by including interesting stories that connect with travellers. The panellists stated that authenticity is the most important thing that writers/bloggers can offer to readers, which allows readers to have a source which provides trustworthy, personal experiences, challenges and personality as well as incorporating information and multimedia.
The World Travel Writers Conference was the first such conference hosted and organized by Maldives, through an initiative of the first ever international TV channel of the country, Maldives TV.