The tourism ministry announced Thursday plans to review industry regulations and inspect all resorts, guesthouses and safari vessels in the country.
“We have decided to inspect all tourist facilities in the Maldives within the next six to eight months. Regular monitoring must be done to ensure that regulations are followed,” Tourism Minister Ali Waheed told reporters.
Teams comprised of ministry officials, police and military will carry out random inspections, he added.
A special committee has also been formed on the advice of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih to address concerns and review regulations on operating resorts, guesthouses, travel agencies as well as rules about water sports and fire and safety.
“Some of these regulations are very outdated. They need to be modernised with the changes in time and development,” Waheed said.
Discussions are also underway with island councils to designate safe swimming areas, he said, whilst tourist police officers would be stationed on all islands “to provide protection that equals their beauty.”
Waheed ruled out foul play in a massive fire that forced the closure of the award-winning Gili Lankanfushi resort, calling it an “unfortunate, tragic incident.”
He went on to promise “revolutionary changes” in 2019, which would be a “record-breaking year” for the tourism industry after 1.4 million tourists visited the Maldives last year,
Europeans accounted for nearly half of arrivals and Chinese holidaymakers represented the largest market share with 19 percent.
Some of the ministry’s plans for the year include:
- Developing eco-tourism targeted to the wetlands of the southern Fuvahmulah City
- Establishing separate sections in the ministry for guesthouses and tourism diversification
- Exploring avenues for sports and medical tourism
- Marketing trips to Dubai, India and Germany
- Promotion focused on expanding new and existing markets
- Seeking advertisement on CNN and National Geographic
- Building airport infrastructure to reflect local culture and traditions
- Pushing for viable transport networks in the north and south of the country
Waheed also spoke about efforts to engage more with resort managements and employees. Ten complaints have so far been filed through a hotline opened on January 1, he noted.
“We will be working to resolve issues with the service charge and ratio and other matters related to employees. All these things will be monitored during the inspection,” he said.