Evaluation of nominees for South Asian Travel Awards (SATA) 2018 kicked off on Tuesday.
In a statement, organiser Highrise said a panel of multi national experts will be evaluating the Maldives based nominees from Tuesday to Sunday at Mookai Hotel in capital Male. The jury is based on the number of nominees from major participating destinations, and includes Amal Goonetilleke, Rinku Madan and Hinna Khalid, it added.
“They are chosen on the basis of their entrepreneurial experience, their achievements and their commitment to supporting and knowledge about the tourism and service industry. They play a key role in reviewing the nominees and selecting the finalists during the Awards competition,” the statement read.
“The jury members then give feedback through an online system designed for evaluation process with individual login.”
With over three decades of experience in the field of tourism and hospitality, Amal specialises in sales and marketing for hotels and resorts. Presently a marketing consultant for hospitality companies with local and international affiliations, she is well versed in multiple disciplines of sales and marketing across global markets and segments such as corporate, MICE, leisure, and revenue management.
She is recognised as one of the leaders in hospitality focused sales and marketing in her native Sri Lanka. She held the position of Vice President at The Hotels Association of Sri Lanka, Vice President at Colombo City Hotels Association and Chairperson at PATA Sri Lanka Chapter, and was a Board Member of the Sri Lanka Promotions Bureau.
In recognition of her contribution to the industry, she was awarded the Zonta Woman of Achievement Award for Tourism in 2009 and Women in Management – Tourism Gold Award in 2015.
Rinku recently completed her studies in Global Journalism at Harvard University, with the objective of pursuing her writing skills in the area of global luxury travel. She had earlier studied at the French Culinary Institute in the area of food writing. Having worked with luminaries like Alan Richman and Andrew Fischer, she is amongst the very few certified food writers in India with a global experience.
Her penchant for understanding food and other finer aspects of life commenced more than a decade ago, as the chef at a seven-star members-only restaurant. This was followed by her stint as the Editor of Times Nightlife Guide. She further honed her journalism skills through weekly columns at The Economic Times and The Sunday Times, and with leading business and general dailies in the Times Group fold and the BBC Good Food Guide. She was also a producer at the CNN International Bureau, New Delhi for a brief period.
Rinku’s experience in writing feature articles on food, restaurants, cuisines and luxury properties enhanced her skills, and enabled her to pursue luxury as a focus area, not only as a writer but also as a food stylist and consultant in the field of food and beverage.
Hinna is a professional consultant, researcher, lecturer and writer who has contributed immensely to educating and empowering people. She has completed a Masters in Arts in Applied Social Research at University of West of England, a Post Graduate Diploma in Social Science Research Methods at University of Bristol, and a Post Graduate Diploma in PHC Management at Mahidol University. She is now a Doctoral Student of Philosophy at Management and Science University, Malaysia (MSU).
She has over 25 years of experience in administration, having worked at policy level and managing institutions. Her experience includes collaboration and working with UNDP, WHO, ROSA, UNICEF, IMF and World Bank representatives and several other stakeholders.
Hinna has made contributions to policy dialogues for the Ministry of Gender, Ministry of Home affairs, Male City Council. She had previously headed the Vice Presidential Secretariat, and had also served as the focal point for Commonwealth’s decentralisation and regionalisation projects in Maldives.
According to Highrise, evaluations will be held in six cities, including Male, Colombo, Bangalore, New Delhi, Kathmandu and Paro. During the evaluation, each property has to do a presentation of 10 minutes before a panel consisting of multi-national judges, it said.
Nominations for the third edition of SATA, which consists of 36 categories in 10 segments, closed in April with a record 500 plus nominations.
Jumeirah, Soneva, Sun Siyam Resorts, Coco Collection, Villa Hotels, The Kingsbury, Amaya Hotels and Resorts, Adaaran Resorts Maldives, Heritance Hotels, Jetwing Hotels, Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts, Marriott and Taj Hotels are some of the well-known brands that have been nominated for the awards.
SATA 2018 gala is scheduled to take place in India’s commercial capital Mumbai from September 14-15.
Launched in 2016 by Maldives based event management company Highrise, SATA has been endorsed by regional tourism authorities and organisations, including the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Sri Lanka (FCCISL), Colombo Chamber of Commerce (CCC), Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC), Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO), Confederation of Associated Tour Operators (India), Association of Travel Agents (ATA) Maldives, Association of Travel and Tour Operators India (ATTOI), Association of Professionals in Tourism (APT, India), Kerala Hotel General Managers Club (KHGMC), Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) and Liveaboard Association of Maldives (LAM).
SATA is the first ever regional travel awards endorsed by multi national associations, providing the tourism sector of the South Asian region with recognition towards their facilities and service excellence. It aims to encourage and raise service standards in the region’s tourism industry.
The awards’ first edition, which wrapped up with a gala ceremony at the iconic Mount Lavinia Hotel in Sri Lanka, saw an overwhelming support with more than 260 nominations. Major travel media organisations, including Maldives Insider, Asian Traveller, Asian Geographic, Asian Diver and Floating Asia were appointed as media partners of SATA 2016.
More than 414 nominations from the Maldives, India, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Nepal were received for the 39 categories included in the 2017 edition of SATA, which took place at the southernmost Maldives atoll of Addu in October.