This Week: Entrepreneurship & Empowerment of Women

This Week: Entrepreneurship & Empowerment of Women

The South Asian Digital Travel Conversation is a digital conversation organized by the South Asian Travel Awards to discuss in-depth, to create awareness and to voice the challenges that are being faced in the Travel Trade & Hospitality Industry of the South Asian region.

The conversation has been purposefully designed as a series, spread across multiple episodes of 60 minutes each, with special guests from the South Asian region’s Travel Trade & Hospitality Industry. Each episode will highlight a specific topic, and industry professionals will be sharing their voice with regional factual data.

The conversation will be guided by a moderator who will ask questions based on the topic of the day, and the guests will share their views, experiences, opinions and hindrances. The show will be viewed live on Facebook ( every Saturday at 1130 GMT and broadcasted LIVE on Raajje Television. Different episodes will be presented with diverse industry stakeholders and moderators.

Episode Eight will be hosted by the VP of South Asian Travel Awards (SATA) Mr Suraj Khan and News Director – International Affairs of Raajje TV, Aishath Shaany. The topic of episode Nine is; Women in Tourism & Hospitality

Guests for Episode 09 are:

Amal Goonetilleke - Chief Executive Officer (CEO), The Hotel Association of Sri Lanka

With over 3 decades of experience in tourism and hospitality, specialising in sales and marketing for hotels and resorts in Sri Lanka and Maldives, Amal is currently a sought after consultant for the hospitality industry with local and international affiliations. A powerful voice in the field, she has been a catalyst in influencing the Government to bring about policy changes which proved beneficial to the industry. Her last assignment was as the Regional Director of Sales – Sri Lanka & Maldives for the Taj Group of Hotels for 21 years. Prior to this, she worked as the head of marketing for a reputed local hospitality group.She currently serves as the CEO of The Hotels Association of Sri Lanka. She held the position as a Board Member of the Sri Lanka Promotions Bureau, held the position of Vice President of Colombo City Hotels Association and was Chairperson of PATA’s Sri Lanka chapter. A Recipient of the “Zonta Woman of Achievement Award for Tourism” in 2009, and was honoured with the “Women in Management - Tourism Gold Award” in 2015 in recognition of her contribution to the industry.

Nidhi Bansal - Chief Executive Officer (CEO), India City Walks

Nidhi Bansal is the CEO of ‘India City Walks’ and ‘India With Locals’, which have won many awards both Nationally and Internationally. She has spent fruitful 20 years in the most elevated echelons of the hospitality industry like the Taj Group of Hotels, The Marriott International, The EIH Group of Hotels (The Oberoi), followed by a thriving career at Genpact. Her endeavour has been to support women empowerment, creating social impact through meaningful real life travel experiences for everyone’s direct benefit. She has enabled scenarios in historical space for managing regional trends and foster diversity through tourism initiatives related to heritage, art, design & gastronomy. She promotes cultural heritage of India with an innovative model for maximizing the economic impact, generating employment and working in tandem with local communities. 

Nikhila Palat - Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Katalyst Reputation Management

With over fourteen years of experience in the Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Nikhila has been the head of Marketing, Public Relations and Communications for some of the country's most iconic hotels. She has an MBA in Marketing, and is armed with a diploma in Creative New Media and the Web from Harvard University, Boston. In her career, she has worked for some of the most reputed and distinguished organizations such as Standard Chartered Bank, Wadia Group, The Times of India Group, Ogaan Publications, Molton Brown and Yash Raj Films, to name a few. With the birth of her eminent company Katalyst Reputation Management, renowned for the deftness with which it provides services to its brands, she has been bringing about top-notch Public Relations, Marketing, Design and Digital solutions to help grow a variety of brands.

Dr Mariyam Shakeela - Chief Executive Officer (CEO), SIMDI Group

Dr Mariyam Shakeela, is a former Cabinet Minister of the Government of Maldives and held portfolios in Gender Family and Human Rights, Health and Foreign Affairs. With over 30 years of experience nationally and internationally serving private and public sector: as a business woman/entrepreneur, a teacher/lecturer, and as an academic she is a well-known figure in the society. Currently apart from holding a diplomatic position as Honorary Consul for Belgium in Maldives, she is the CEO of SIMDI Group of Companies heading diversified businesses engaged in varied sectors from trading, hospitality, education, medical and mental health. She is also a member of two Advisory Boards of the Prestigious Curtin University and chairs the board for Executive education and MBA. Very active in civil society groups both nationally and internationally and linked with prestigious institutions such as ICAN/WASL, several South Asian NGO’s, International Executive Council Member of SAARC Chamber Women Entrepreneurs Council (SCWEC), as well as UN Women she facilitates economic, social and political empowerment of women and youth, works on conflict resolution, Human Rights and building peace and security.