Q&A with Parag Kathuria; Director of Sales and Marketing, Reethi Faru Resort

by Team Conscious Carma

In a Nutshell

It would be an understatement to say that 2020 has been a year of change and reflection! Never before did we witness such dynamic pricing and flexible cancellation policies across the travel, aviation and hospitality industry. As the world is going from one lockdown to the next, those who are fortunate to move about are planning on safe and sustainable travel. And that’s great news, as what’s not good for the environment can never be good for business. At Reethi Faru we are proud of the work we do in the space of sustainability and the larger impact we create with our guests and patrons across geographical boundaries.

What are some of the environmental challenges that the Maldives is witnessing and how is Reethi Faru contributing to the aspects of sustainability?

No spot on the face of the earth is untouched by the impacts of global warming – being an island nation the Maldives is one of the most vulnerable countries and therefore the need to adapt and fight back to preserve its existence is greater than others. The irony is that while the Maldives is barely a contributor to greenhouse emissions, it faces some of the worst consequences. The coral reef ecosystem is sensitive but quintessential for sustainable oceans – buffering shorelines against harsh waves, storms and even floods. Particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, we are witnessing depletion in marine life, and the death of coral reefs.

Hope floats as the Maldives is beginning to turn the tide. And more and more resorts are beginning to employ sustainable practices. At Reethi Faru, it’s encouraging to see how our senior leadership, mindful of contributing towards planet | people | positivity, lay a strong foundation towards a sustainable tomorrow. And now it’s upon us to further the cause. We have specialized programs in the marine segment that not only help revive the coral population but also focus on adding diversity. Our coral nurseries are a live example of our ongoing efforts.

Have you seen any major shift in the travel pattern or new emerging markets?

Last year the Maldives witnessed the influx of over 500,000 visitors, and this year we have already welcomed over 92,102 travellers. As per the stats, approximately 2,900 visitors are arriving here each day. While Europe (DACH countries) has always been a strong market for us, quite interestingly, India, Russia/CIS and Ukraine are fast emergings as strong players. In the context of Russia/CIS and Ukraine, family holidays and the time spent together in peace and harmony with a little bit of adventure are the driving factors. It won’t be entirely wrong to say that of late, Maldives has become the hub for first-timers and honeymooners looking for an exotic vacation, especially from India. We are quite proud of the fact that most of the young travellers, conscious of cause and effect, are choosing us for our commitment towards sustainability. While it is a win-win situation for all, these young eco-warriors are a hope for a better tomorrow!

Going forward, what should we expect from Reethi Faru in the space of sustainability?

We do not believe in over-promising and under-delivering. We have set a benchmark for us and are quite proud of all the good that we have done since the day of our conception. While technically, we are quite sound in our energy-conservation methods deployed across the island, we are equally proud of our initiatives underwater as well. We have a few more ideas that we would put into action soon, but more than announcing more and more initiatives, we want to focus our efforts on continuing what we have already set into motion. Sustainability is not a touch-and-go kind of concept; it needs constant nurturing and enhancements and that’s what’s going to be our focus going forward.

The travel and Hospitality industry will never be the same again. What do you foresee vis-a-vis these industries post the recent pandemic, COVID-19?

It goes without saying that the travel and hospitality industry was by far the worst-hit segments and one not only needs to think about how to recover from this but also focus on the emerging trends that going forward will decide the fate of these industries. Our industry’s vulnerabilities are multi-faceted. That also means that the years gone by have well prepared us to think ahead and plan for tomorrow. Just as the impact of COVID-19 will begin to fade further and more countries will open their borders, it will be crucial for resorts to act in a proactive manner by effectively managing pricing and marketing strategies that directly impact revenues but more importantly make travellers feel safe. Recent studies strongly indicate that there’ll be a major shift in the future travel pattern, where individuals will opt for more and more sustainable travel and stay options. At Reethi Faru, we have been conscious about our relationship with the environment and we are well prepared to host the new wave of eco-conscious travellers. Our continuous initiatives in the marine and energy conservation segment ever since the conception of our resort affirm that sustainability is in our DNA.

Does Reethi Faru have programs/activities with guest-connect to impart know-how of the causes it is championing?

We are certain of the fact that without doing anything, nothing will change, but we are also aware that alone we can only start the fire, but for it to become a revolution, more and more like-minded and socially aware people need to join in. And who better than those who choose us for our best practices. We have a weekly guest engagement program called the Management Cocktail, where guests and selected members of the staff interact on various subjects. Our Resort Manager along with our front-line team including F&B | Front Office| Marine Biologist | Dive Center and Marketing experts all come together to impart all the good we have been doing in the sustainability space. It’s imperative for us to assure them that they are choosing us for all the right reasons. We also have various activities like beach and reef cleaning, coral adoption, plant a tree that witnesses active guest participation. Before the pandemic, we were also giving our guests a technical tour of our island to walk the talk about energy conservation and eco-friendly initiatives. We hope to revive it soon.

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