The tourism ministry has vowed to take action against tourist resorts that violate environmental regulations after it was reported that Dhigufaru Island Resort has been dumping rubbish on a nearby uninhabited island.
Photos published on Facebook show dozens of bags of domestic rubbish containing items such as plastic bottles, cups and food containers discarded haphazardly on a beach on Keyodhoo island, which is also under the Dhigufaru Resort management. The name of the resort and its logo could be clearly seen on bags in the pictures.
However, Dhigufaru Resort claimed the rubbish had not been dumped but was simply awaiting collection, and that the photos reflected “an untrue negative image”.
“The pictures show the collected rubbish prepared for transport to the waste disposal site, scheduled for last week. It was delayed by a few days due to adverse weather conditions,” a post on the resort’s Facebook page said.
In response to the uproar, the tourism ministry issued a statement on Monday warning resorts and hotel operators the government would not tolerate the breaking of the country’s environmental laws.
“One of the main policies of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih is to prioritise environmental issues, while still developing the country. Therefore, the ministry will take every action it has to take,” the statement said.
The ministry said it sent circulars to resorts, hotels and guesthouses in April and May warning them to respect the country’s environmental laws and regulations.
“However some companies are still neglecting their responsibilities. The ministry therefore has decided to take action against perpetrators,” the ministry said, without stating what action it planned to take.
Under the regulation on the protection and conservation of the environment in the tourism industry, which came into effect on July 20, 2006, resorts, guest houses and tourist vessels that break the law face a fine of between MVR1,000 and MVR10,000 (US$65 and US$649). Repeat offenders are liable to a fine of MVR50,000 and MVR100,000. Further violations could result in the ministry revoking the perpetrator’s licence to operate.