‘A beautiful landscape with inhumane people’ – How the Maldives crisis is affecting tourism

‘A beautiful landscape with inhumane people’ – How the Maldives crisis is affecting tourism
February 05 19:41 2018

The Maldives political crisis is affecting the country’s vital tourism industry, with businesses complaining about the lack of government support and reassuring anxious holidaymakers about their safety.

The country was rocked last Thursday by a late-night ruling from the Supreme Court ordering the release of high profile prisoners including former president Mohamed Nasheed.

Since then there have been clashes in the capital, the opening of parliament has been cancelled for security reasons and the US and UK have told their citizens to exercise caution when in Male. Last month Germany updated its Maldives travel advice after resort raids.

China, which has the single biggest market share of tourists to the Maldives by nationality, has also said its citizens should take care.

“All Chinese citizens and organisations currently in the Maldives should maintain a high level of alert as well as strengthen any necessary safety precautions or emergency preparations and to avoid large gatherings of people,” said the warning.

“In view of the aforementioned special circumstance should any Chinese citizens still travel to the Maldives after the publication of these warnings and announcements, then there is a possibility that these individuals will encounter risks to their safety, which could impair the effectiveness of any relief measures, the costs of which shall all be borne by the individual responsible.”

Tourism is the Maldives biggest industry. It accounts for around a fifth of the GDP  and generates billions of dollars every year in revenue. In 2016, the sector was worth almost US$9 billion.

Almost 1.4 million people visited the Indian Ocean archipelago last year.

Those interviewed by the Maldives Independent wanted to avoid government scrutiny and said they did not want to be identified.

“I don’t think the recent (political) developments change anything,” said one hotel owner in the capital. “This country has been unstable for a while now. I don’t think politics here shocks or surprises the world anymore. We’re not good people, we are sort of famous as a beautiful landscape with inhumane people.”

Some of his guests complained about the situation, but he offered them a good tour guide and tried to calm them down. “This government tries to help the industry but only those politically or personally affiliated with them,” he lamented.

A travel agent in Malé said he was receiving lots of phone calls from nervous travellers.

“We keep telling them they can stay here without getting into harm’s way. We’ve had very few cancellations but if things escalate I think we can expect more because we have to do a lot of convincing.

“I think political and social stability is very important if you want a stable economy or even a single industry,” he said.

The reputation of the upmarket honeymoon destination has taken a battering in recent years: a state of emergency declared in 2015 has been followed by political turmoil and, more recently, international concerns over terrorism.

“We had a loss of about US$2000 during the last political turmoil (the state of emergency),” said the owner of a guesthouse which is located on an island an hour from Malé.

“We get a lot of questions. They ask if it’s safe and we tell them that the crisis is in the capital and that it will not cause difficulties in the islands.”

Another guesthouse owner, with properties throughout the archipelago, said cancellations were to be expected as word spreads over the travel advisories and the lack of peace.

Any shocks to the tourism industry could damage the Maldivian economy, global financial institutions have repeatedly warned, with the IMF even downgrading the country to a “fragile state” last year because of the tense political situation.

Nobody from the Tourism Ministry or MATI, an influential lobby group for the industry, was available for comment at the time of publication. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs last week said there was no threat to visitor safety.

Main photo: @JuneAbdul

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  1. taffy
    February 05, 21:44 #1 taffy

    It only takes one only one; major high ranking airline to cancel all-flights to Male in support of the populous uprising agains the dictator.
    He will then be crushed as the tourist island owners of the resorts the Maldivian, the super rich will say enough. and he will be out of office in 24 hours

    Reply to this comment
  2. Private Tourist
    February 06, 00:50 #2 Private Tourist

    “In view of the aforementioned special circumstance should any Chinese citizens still travel to the Maldives after the publication of these warnings and announcements, then there is a possibility that these individuals will encounter risks to their safety, which could impair the effectiveness of any relief measures, the costs of which shall all be borne by the individual responsible.”

    That is the Chinese version of a DO NOT TRAVEL notification. It is also saying its citizens AFTER this warning will NOT be covered by Travel Insurance.

    Expect similar from other countries as this continues.

    The Maldivian Tourist Industry cannot survive a full 15 day State Of Emergency.

    Any tourists visiting the Maldives should BE AWARE they are NOT COVERED by travel insurance if their flights, baggage, transfers, possessions or money or their personal safety are affected directly or indirectly by this STATE OF EMERGENCY if they BOOK AFTER or depart AFTER the DOE was declared.

    Insurance companies hsve different parameters than Foreign Offices, Travel Agents and Airlines.


    Reply to this comment
  3. Not good people?
    February 16, 10:53 #3 Not good people?

    “We’re not good people, we are sort of famous as a beautiful landscape with inhumane people…” From the context I assume the Hotel Owner who quoted this is a Maldivian? Does he or she believe that he/she is not good?

    I believe there is mercy for that person.

    I have been learning that nobody is “good.” BUT if we admit that (without being proud of being bad as some people actually are…) then there is Mercy from Heaven. And I think, goodness comes from Mercy. Not a very liberal idea, but true.

    Reply to this comment
  4. REALrealist
    February 17, 10:47 #4 REALrealist

    Imagine if the Chinese would gradually grow so powerful in the Maldives that Maldivians would become like second class citizen’s in their own country. Sadly, it probably will never happen, by that time, internal conflict within China would make the Chinese unable to stomach the conflict with the Indians and the West it might take to do so. But if only it would happen, Maldivians might get a taste of their own bitter medicine for once. Look at what ex-pats and Indian, Sri-Lankans go through in the Maldives.

    In fact, I wish Maldivians would feel what it was like to feel ridiculed and repressed for being Muslim so they would get a taste of the sting and pain they put others through when they repress other people’s freedom of religion. AT least once, so they might understand how much it hurts.

    Of course, if the West and Maldivian liberals, (though the only true Maldivian liberals have been killed or repressed into silence) think that Nasheed is the answer and they support him, how used and stupid they would be. Nasheed, that expert con-artist, has somehow managed to convince the rest of the world that he cares about human rights and freedom of religion. When I met him that is what he said, he was trying to go up against a law banning religions other than Islam. Of course, I believed him, and fought for that cause as well. As a person brought up in the West, this is natural I should believe that all people should have freedom of conscience. This is what we are taught, at least I was. When a few Maldivians pushed him to act on that, to give freedom of religion, he shunned them like a plague.

    For this reason, I think Nasheed is even more of a Machiavellian realist than Yameen. STUDY what Machiavelli has to say about princes needing to use religion for power.

    FOR example, Nasheed goes to Denmark and talks to some group there about the radicals in Maldivian Islam as being like “JESUITS” – as though he was some sort of Christian-Protestant sympathiser, playing with the deepest held beliefs of Western conservatives to win support for an agenda of narcissism cloaked as “liberty…”

    Yameen is Anni without the liberal mask. I hate Yameen, but at least with him, you know what you are getting.

    Without yameen, the only source of stability in the Maldives would be through a military rule. Which actually could happen. WHY? because, with no democratic forums available to fight for power (let’s not pretend anybody is fighting for justice or freedom) the Mosques and religion become the vehicle with which to fight for power, extremism gets out of control and noone can deal with it without military control of the State.

    Reply to this comment
  5. 100%Hindu
    February 19, 18:26 #5 100%Hindu

    Sadly Maldives has now joined the growing list of chaotic and unstable Muslim countries.
    Lack of freedom of worship really bugs millions of Indians like me who are considerably better educated and wealthier than you. I think the Indian government should distance itself from radical Islamic countries like Maldives with whom we have nothing in common. We are a growing economy producing everything we need and with no taste for your tuna. We should still allow you to travel to India for medical treatment and higher studies as you do not have these facilities. We should frisk you at the airports, confiscate your Qurans and lock you up the minute you bend down to pray. Maybe then Muslims will learn to respect other faiths. Our beliefs are not garbage despite what the Quran teaches you.
    You should not be outraged at this suggestion. After all that is the way you treat me and other non Muslims.

    Reply to this comment
  6. DOOKY
    February 20, 14:23 #6 DOOKY

    Poverty India is going down in poverty and corruption.corruption has even entered to education
    VC of a South Indian university was arrested recently for accepting bribes.
    Even African countries are not accepting Indian qualifications today this is your KUALIDY of education.
    Even a Maldivian fisherman can obtain a Doctorate in poverty India for a price.
    Poverty India is unable to establish a high-class resort while stone throwing distance from Lacksadeep Islands ..international standard Maldivian resorts are booming with business.
    Poverty India should clean her house first which is smelling so bad.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Fuzzytruthseeker
    February 22, 03:12 #7 Fuzzytruthseeker

    ” We [Indians of the Hindu faith] should lock you up the minute you bend down to pray.” There has been a short-lived African military dictator in Cote d’Ivoire, West Africa who did just what you propose. He ended up being assassinated, not by “jihadist Muslims”, but by an same animist/Christian Ivorian, belonging to the group of people supporting his rival whom he was trying to arouse to commit genocide against the Ivorian Muslims. The rival eventually seized power, but also committed war crimes, largely targetting Muslims. He is now at the ICC (International Criminal Court) facing war crimes charges. His name is Laurent Gbagbo. The name of the short-lived military dictator was General Robert Guei.

    Reply to this comment

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