Visit Maldives unveils International Speaker Line-up for Visit Maldives Storytellers’ Conference 2023

Visit Maldives is proud to reveal our star-studded line-up of international speakers for the Visit Maldives Storytellers’ Conference 2023, the largest gathering of travel writers, journalists, bloggers, influencers, and media experts in the Sunny Side of Life this year.
The Visit Maldives Storytellers’ Conference 2023, to be held from 30th May to 2nd June, brings together 70+ content creators from around the world to ‘Weave Your Maldivian Story’. At the end of the conference, the winners of the social media competition will have the unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the beauty, experiences, and hospitality of the Maldives. The sideline experiences will be conducted at eight different regions of the Maldives, each with its distinctive features, activities, and experiences.
The four influential storytellers we have selected as speakers for this event will inspire and engage the audience with their wealth of experience and thought-provoking ideas. In this article, we will delve into the profiles of the speakers and highlight the topics they will address during the conference.
Doug Lansky on mastering the art of distinctive content
Doug Lansky is  a renowned travel writer, tourism thought leader, and editor based in Stockholm. With over 20 years of experience, Doug has been published on leading publications such as the Guardian, Lonely Planet, and Skift. Doug has authored 10 books including 2 for Lonely Planet and 3 for Rough guides. He had a weekly travel column in over 40 newspapers for five years, hosted a Travel channel show as well as served as a correspondent for Public Radio’s Savvy Traveler Show and as a travel editor for Scandinavian Airlines inflight magazine for three years.
In addition, Doug is an esteemed keynote speaker, delivering acclaimed lectures at numerous universities and even gracing the stage at TED Talks. His captivating presentations have captivated audiences at esteemed venues such as National Geographic Headquarters, Google Travel, Booking.com, Amadeus, and ITB Berlin. Doug has shared his expertise with prestigious organisations like the United Nations World Tourism Organization and various destination organisations worldwide. With his advanced insights and groundbreaking concepts, Doug Lansky never fails to engage his audience and offer fresh perspectives on tourism.
Doug Lansky will assume the role of a moderator during the conference, bringing his expertise and engaging presence to the forefront. He will deliver a compelling talk on the topic "Optimising the Influence of Influencers," shedding light on the connection between influencers and the destination and its key stakeholders. Doug will emphasise the importance of leveraging the unique aspects of each destination to create captivating content that resonates with audiences. His speech will approach organic stories, innovative ideas and the contributions from influencers for empowering the destination to effectively stay advanced amidst the vast ocean of competition.
Doug will actively participate in the Sustainability Talks, contributing to a thought-provoking discussion titled "Holding Onto The Life Of A Destination." This discussion will explore the concept of mindful travel and delve into how we can preserve and safeguard the culture, heritage, and distinctiveness of holiday destinations in today's contemporary world. Doug's insights and perspectives will enrich the conversation, highlighting the significance of sustainable practices and responsible tourism for ensuring the long-term vitality and integrity of our cherished destination.
Jessica Nabongo on sharing stories of inclusive global exploration
Jessica Nabongo is a master storyteller and pioneering travel expert as the first black woman to have travelled to every single country in the world. This extraordinary feat has earned her global recognition. Honoured as one of Travel and Leisure’s 50 Notable People in Travel, Jessica uses her platform to educate and inspire other travellers to experience the world around them as a global community of travellers. Her first book, “Catch me If You Can”, published by National Geographic in June 2022, was an instant best seller.
Jessica is also a pioneer of responsible travel and an ardent environmentalist, namely in her advocacy against single-use plastics. Her lessons and outlook on sustainability; responsible travel; and her expertise has been featured by outlets such as Forbes, Conde Nast Traveller, BBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, TIME Magazine, CBS News and more. She is also the founder of the lifestyle brand ‘The Catch’.
At the Visit Maldives Storytellers’ Conference 2023, Jessica Nabongo will speak on the exciting topic “195 Stories Around The World”, in which she will share stories of her journey across the globe. She will also take part in the ‘Sustainability Talks’ panel, where she will speak on the topic “Making Your Journey Worth it” on how travellers can give back to the destinations they visit.
Vikas Swarup on the power of narratives
Vikas Swarup, a distinguished novelist and former diplomat, has served in numerous prominent assignments across the globe. Throughout his illustrious career, he has held diplomatic posts in Ankara, Washington DC, Addis Ababa, London, and Pretoria, showcasing his versatility and diplomatic acumen. Notably, he has served as the Consul General in Osaka-Kobe, India's foreign office spokesperson, High Commissioner to Canada, and Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs. With his extensive diplomatic experience and literary prowess, Vikas Swarup brings a unique perspective and enriching insights to our conference, leaving a lasting impact on all who have the privilege of hearing him speak.  
Vikas Swarup, in addition to his diplomatic career, is a renowned author of three bestselling novels: "Q and A which was adapted as the multiple Oscar winning Slumdog Millionaire," "Six Suspects," and "The Accidental Apprentice." His literary works have been translated into 47 languages worldwide. Vikas's writing prowess extends beyond his novels, as he has contributed to esteemed publications such as TIME, The Guardian, The Telegraph, Financial Times, DNA, Outlook, and Liberation. He served as a jury member for notable literary and film events, including the 2011 Man Asian Literary Prize and the 33rd Cairo International Film Festival.
At the Visit Maldives Storytellers’ Conference 2023, Vikas Swarup will take the stage and speak on the topic “The Power of Narratives”.  With a focus on the value of slow content, he will emphasise the importance of creating mindful and high-quality content. Vikas will delve into the elements of traditional storytelling, highlighting their enduring significance in the digital age. Drawing from his own experiences, he will also share insights about his award-winning novel, "Q and A" discussing the process of sharing a distinct outlook through storytelling. Prepare to be inspired as Vikas Swarup addresses these compelling topics and engages the audience with his unique perspective.
Eleni Giokos on amplifying voices to connect communities
Eleni Giokos, one of CNN's most versatile correspondents, will serve as a distinguished moderator for the ‘Sustainability Talks’ at the Visit Maldives Storytellers’ Conference 2023 in addition to being a speaker. Based in Dubai, Eleni is renowned for her role as the presenter of "Connecting Africa" on CNN International, as well as her contributions to the "Marketplace Middle East" feature shows. With over 15 years of experience spanning TV, digital, radio, and print media platforms, Eleni brings a wealth of expertise to the conference. Her extensive coverage includes reporting from prominent global events such as the World Economic Forum in Davos and the United Nations General Assembly. Notably, she has also chaired debates at prestigious gatherings such as Davos, WEF Africa, the IMF, African Finance Corporation, and the Africa CEO Forum.
Eleni Giokos has made regular contributions to South Africa's esteemed Mail and Guardian newspaper, showcasing her commitment to journalistic excellence and her engagement with critical socio-political issues. She has actively participated as a motivational speaker at public schools, inspiring and empowering young minds with her insights and experiences. Eleni has dedicated her time inspiring students as a motivational speaker, sharing her knowledge and expertise.
At the Visit Maldives Storytellers’ Conference 2023, Eleni Giokos will take the stage to speak on the captivating topic of 'The Women In The Village.' Drawing from her extensive experiences as a journalist and storyteller, Eleni will share inspiring stories of individuals she has encountered along her journey. Through these narratives, she will weave a broader tapestry of life, shedding light on simple yet profound truths that resonate with audiences. Eleni's ability to capture the essence of human experiences and uplift the voices of women in communities will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression, offering a unique perspective on the power of storytelling and its ability to evoke meaningful connections.
The Visit Maldives Storytellers' Conference 2023 is poised to be an exceptional event, featuring a lineup of internationally renowned speakers who are masters in the art of storytelling. Doug Lansky, Jessica Nabongo, Vikas Swarup, and Eleni Giokos will bring their unique perspectives, insights, and narratives to inspire and engage the audience. From creating distinctive content to promoting responsible travel and amplifying marginalised voices, these speakers exemplify the transformative power of storytelling in the tourism industry.
Highlighting the significance of responsible travel and sustainability reinforces the commitment of Visit Maldives to promote the unique cultural and natural heritage of the Maldives while ensuring a vibrant and sustainable tourism industry for generations to come.
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