SATA: Serving excellence in tourism


1st Aug, 2018 | Tourism Mail Crew


The South Asian Travel Awards 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. The South Asian Travel Awards aims to encourage and raise service standards within the regions of the Tourism industry.

 The endorsement of organizations include Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) , Hotel & Restaurants Association of Bhutan (HRAB), Colombo Chamber of Commerce (CCC), Maldives Marketing & PR Corporation (MMPRC), Maldives Association of Travel Agents & Tour Operators (MATATO), Confederation of Accredited Tour Operators (CATO- India), Association of Travel Agents (ATA) Maldives, Association of Travel and Trade Organizations of India (ATTOI), Association of Professionals in Tourism (APT, India),  Kerala Hotel General Managers Club (KHGMC), Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) and Live aboard Association of Maldives (LAM).

The brand is the first of its kind with affiliations from regional associations ensuring the process within a smooth and transparent procedure. The judging panel will consist of high profile senior representatives selected from destinations with vast knowledge and background of the industry to assure an accurate and fair process. SATA is a High-rise concept. To know more about SATA, we interviewed Ismail Hameed, President & Founder of South Asian Travel Awards (SATA).

Q: What is the South Asian Travel Awards?
 
The South Asian Travel Awards 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. The South Asian Travel Awards aims to encourage and raise service standards within the regions of the Tourism industry.
The endorsement of organizations include Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) , Hotel & Restaurants Association of Bhutan (HRAB), Colombo Chamber of Commerce (CCC), Maldives Marketing & PR Corporation (MMPRC), Maldives Association of Travel Agents & Tour Operators (MATATO), Confederation of Accredited Tour Operators (CATO- India), Association of Travel Agents (ATA) Maldives, Association of Travel and Trade Organizations of 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).
The brand is the first of its kind with affiliations from regional associations ensuring the process within a smooth and transparent procedure. The judging panel will consist of high profile senior representatives selected from destinations with vast knowledge and background of the industry to assure an accurate and fair process. SATA is a Highrise concept .
 
 Q: How was South Asian Travel Awards (SATA) formed?
Well, my core business has been in event management for the last 18 years. While I come from a nation where tourism is the main income. We have World reknown brands across the nation more than inhabited islands. While in event management, we designed the first travel awards for MALDIVES in 2012 on request of Maldives Association of Travel Agents & Tour Operators (MATATO). The brand Maldives Travel Awards was structured, designed , developed and delivered by my company Highrise since 2012 till 2016 when including one of the edition in Dubai. Highrise is also popular for doing different types of events in MALDIVES and abroad including in Kerala, Bangalore, Colombo, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and in Dubai.
 
Hence, after continuous events in the region. Our team came up with the idea of developing a brand which celebrates the best of South Asian Hospitality with “SATA”. That’s how the idea came.
 
Then we invited our friends who are likeminded to affiliate to the idea of Highrise.  Apart from Highrise seniors, the First to be brought in to the team was from India (Mr.Suraj Khan, VP - India),followed with Mr.Tuan Saabir Vaffoor and Mr.Sameer Yoonus from Sri Lanka as VP-Srilanka and then Mr.Rajat Sarawagi as the VP, Nepal. Now we have appointed our focal point in Bhutan as Hotel and Restaurants Association of Bhutan (HRAB). 
 
Q: South Asian Travel Awards 2018 is going to be organized in Mumbai. How is the preparation going?
 
We have had our past events of SATA in the beautiful 5 Star Property Mount Lavinia Hotel of Sri Lanka in 2016 and across the Equator at Equator Village Maldives in 2017. Hence we believed it’s time that SATA reaches South Asia’s Business Capital “MUMBAI”. The preparations are going on and we already have over 100 participants from regions top hospitality brands confirmed their presence at SATA Gala Retreat from 14th - 15th Sept 2018.
 
 Q: What is the role of South Asian Travel Awards in tourism development?
 
The role of SATA in the development is huge, as unlike just giving away an award, we spend in evaluations of our nominees. An expert panel jury is selected from different nationalities and this team traveled even this year for over a month to 7 Cities in major 5 countries. They allow properties to come and present themselves and explain why and how they are unique in service and hospitality, then a winner is chosen among them. 
Q: Is South Asian Travel Awards beneficial? How can South Asian Travel Awards benefit Nepal?
 
SATA is endorsed by major regional organizations including Nepal Tourism Board. We also have nominees who are well recognized in Nepal’s tourism industry taking part.  A recognition competed within the region is more valuable than being getting a commercial recognition.
We also have plans to host the 4th South Asian Travel Awards during Aug or Sep 2019 in Nepal. This is obviously create a great mileage for the destination.
 
Q:South Asian Travel Awards has been awarding only 5 countries of South Asia for now, when will SATA includes countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh?
 
The brand SATA launched with 3 destinations (India, Sri Lanka and Maldives) in 2016. Now it’s 5 countries having Nepal and Bhutan added to the selection. We are in process of adding a new country and to announce at Gala 2018. Destinations are chosen by SATA management consisting and in consideration of demographics and contents of tourism, while we need to allocate appropriate categories for these new destinations to compete. Likewise a Hill Resort category is not applicable to Maldives while all the remaining 4 countries does have at present. Same goes with Leading Beach Category when Nepal and Bhutan doesn’t apply for that category. So bottom line is that new destinations will be added, but slow and steady with research.
 
Q: On what basis are the SATA awards categorized?

 SATA Awards are honored in Destination Wise and Regional Wise, additionally we also have a professionally evaluated 39 categories and travelers choice 10 categories. 60% score is given by professional panel , then 40% by popular online votes. SATA does not charge any property or service to nominate to the award.