Sonu Shivdasani, ET TravelWorld News, ET TravelWorld


JLF Soneva Fushi will be a study in Slow Life: Sonu Shivdasani
Starting May 13, the first-ever Maldives iteration of the enduring Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) will carry a worldwide line-up of critically acclaimed authors, thinkers, and cultural leaders to Soneva Fushi, A primary for any Maldivian island, this 10-day literary competition is definitely a mirrored image of the search for reinventing their buyer journey and expertise on the property by going above and past the same old artwork of hoteliering.

“We are looking forward to this first edition of JLF Soneva Fushi, the first of a series of three festivals,” shares Sonu Shivdasani, CEO, and Co-Founder of Soneva. “Together with Teamwork Arts, we are bringing authors and artists from all over the world to celebrate literature, music, and art,” he says.

According to him, the themes of the competition are in alignment with its core model philosophy. “A bespoke experience, JLF Soneva Fushi will be a study in Slow Life, with morning yoga sessions, stimulating workshops, world-class international cuisine, and stunning sunsets all set against our languorous blue sea. Environment, travel, wellness, history, sustainability, poetry, astronomy, and many more themes will also be part of the panel discussions, events, and workshops,” he shares.

In an unique interplay with ETTravelWorld, Shivdasani shares his impressions on the modifications in market dynamics prior to now couple of years and the efforts being put in by Soneva to retain the visitor movement consistent with the identical.

Changing market dynamics & tourism development prior to now two years
Complete the pandemic, the Maldives had only a few journey restrictions in place, so we have been nonetheless in a position to welcome a excessive variety of worldwide company over the previous two years. Our revenues at Soneva Fushi and Soneva Jani multiplied by an element of six from Indian company in 2021/22 in contrast with 2019 figures. So, India has grow to be certainly one of our prime 4 supply markets. With the excellent news in regards to the air journey bubble just a few months in the past, we stay up for welcoming extra Indian company to the Maldives and to Soneva. We’ve just lately relaxed our arrival protocols throughout our resorts, with no extra obligatory PCR testing for company at Soneva Fushi or Soneva Jani.

As a end result, our development in markets resembling India has been exponential because of the excessive proximity of the supply area aided by the unbelievable visitor security and care applied by our hosts. Usually, our company from India have stayed for longer durations and sometimes come again greater than every year. In addition, we have now additionally witnessed a dynamic shift in the direction of household journey to the Maldives versus solely honeymoons that have been symbolic of the vacation spot prior to now.

Emerging post-pandemic tourism parameters

Following the affect of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have now discovered that vacationers have gotten extra health-focused, extra conscious of nature, and extra delicate to the challenges of the planet. Reunions with household and pals have additionally grow to be extremely popular, and we’re already witnessing this rising development at our resorts by a rise in multi-generational vacationers coming to remain at Soneva, particularly our Indian company.

Additionally, we’re discovering that there’s big pent-up demand being launched because the pandemic involves an finish hopefully. The opening of borders has been very nicely obtained worldwide, however prosperous vacationers are nonetheless being cautious of their journey choices concerning their well being and security, experiences together with the benefit of creating journey choices are all key components.

Short-haul locations are more likely to proceed doing higher this 12 months. And now that Thailand just lately opened its doorways to the world, we’re already seeing nice traction for our resort Soneva Kiri.

A JLL & The People Network report estimates the direct manpower necessities for the lodge trade might be within the vary of 100,000 – 150,000 professionals for resorts solely; excluding the demand for ancillary and journey commerce industries. It additionally reveals the staffing gaps at present confronted throughout departments within the trade with the utmost scarcity discovered within the Food and Beverages vertical (53 per cent), adopted by Front Office (26 per cent) and Housekeeping (21 per cent).

Response to the competition by way of bookings
To date, we have now undertaken an intensive advertising marketing campaign with each our commerce and media companions to generate consciousness of the competition focussing on our key markets of India, GCC, UK, USA, and Europe. In addition, we’re additionally working with our valued company and repeaters, who’ve all been invited to hitch the competition, in addition to the JLF present viewers. As a end result, to this point, we have now seen bookings from India, GCC area, UK, USA, and Europe come to fruition.

Since we are actually just a few weeks out now, preparations are totally underway with reference to logistics and confirming all the company in addition to the authors’ and audio system’ particulars.

In the long run, we hope that this occasion will appeal to company not solely from India however all around the globe to expertise Soneva Fushi and on the similar time partake in some thought-provoking periods.

Festival tourism and footfalls
We have plenty of repeat company, so it’s also about providing them a cause to return to our resorts 12 months after 12 months. All the 12 months, we provide a wealthy array of visitor actions and experiences to make sure that each keep is exclusive, whether or not it’s gazing on the stars by one of many largest telescopes within the Indian Ocean at our observatory, studying to free dive, or snorkelling with our Marine Biologist. There are additionally studying alternatives from inspiring guests by our Soneva Stars programme, from world-renowned astronomers, glass artists and world champion free divers to well-known authors, Michelin-starred cooks, winemakers, and even Grand Slam tennis champions like Jonas Björkman.

Later this 12 months we will even be internet hosting a wellness competition – Soul at Soneva Fushi, to enrich our new Soneva Soul wellness providing that we launched in late 2021. Our aim is to proceed to search for alternatives that can improve our uncommon experiences for our company .

Agent versus on-line bookings, mapping the journey development in Covid-ridden state of affairs
We have seen development throughout each segments particularly from the Indian market – for the time being they’re equally cut up. Having stated that, the journey commerce has grow to be much more important in enjoying a job to teach our prospects about our properties and serving to to facilitate a easy journey course of for them to return to our resorts.

Festival tourism and sustainable tourism

At Soneva, sustainability is on the coronary heart of all the things we do, and this is not going to change after we host any festivals or occasions. Of course, there will be little question that we, as an trade, devour way over our justifiable share of sources. But I imagine that each one firms, lodge and occasions companies included, will need to have a function past revenue. They should play a larger position on the earth past simply enriching their shareholders. I do not imagine that this has to run counter to a profitable enterprise mannequin, in truth, it may be central to it. We can discover alternatives to make small optimistic modifications that don’t affect negatively on our profitability or our company’ notion of our merchandise, but which might generate appreciable good for each the setting and society by internet hosting arts, music, literature and cultural occasions. In truth, they’ll usually improve our company’ expertise.

At Soneva, we recycle what we will onsite by composting natural meals waste and backyard waste; and make our personal charcoal from wooden waste. Glass waste is shipped to Soneva Fushi’s Art and Glass Studio the place it’s crushed and melted all the way down to be made into certainly one of a form artworks by world-renowned visiting glass artists or was purposeful glassware by our glass group – through the JLF Soneva Fushi occasion company can expertise glass blowing lessons as a part of the programme.

Operating in distant places additionally requires our company to journey lengthy distances. On common, a visitor’s spherical journey will end in emissions of round 1 ton of CO2. Our company have little alternative however to fly to achieve our distant places. In 2008, we additionally realized that our method in the direction of measuring carbon emissions was restricted as we have been solely measuring scopes 1 and a couple of, not scope 3, which coated the externalities ie, company flying in, provides coming into our resorts, and so forth. We thus determined to measure scope 3.

To our nice shock, we found that 85 per cent, sure, 85 per cent of the CO2 emissions from Soneva Fushi come from scope 3, which the trade, typically, doesn’t measure. So, we took the straightforward step of including a compulsory 2 per cent Environmental Levy to our company’ payments, to offset all our emissions. It was a small change, and a comparatively small cost, which we discovered our company more than pleased to simply accept. And the rewards have been nice.





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