Millionaire’s dream and Maldivian’s reality can coexist in tourism industry: Nasheed

The Maldives’ economy can sustainably and inclusively enhance development through the tourism industry, former President Mohamed Nasheed has told the Asia-Pacific Business Forum.

“The millionaire’s dream, and the Maldivian’s reality can co-exist and create a sustainable development model,” Nasheed told the forum in Colombo.

Describing the success of the guest house tourism model, he told stakeholders from the 53 member states that the exclusive one-island one-resort model has failed to benefit small island communities sufficiently.

“This model worked well for some. It worked for the resort owners and tour operators. And it worked for the central government, who profited handsomely from leasing islands for resort development. But had limited impact on the average Maldivian.”

The success of the tourism industry – dependant on 109 resorts – has seen the country’s per capita GDP double since 2001, now contributing around 35 percent to direct revenue.

Following alterations to tourism policy during Nasheed’s time in office (2008 – 2012) guest houses on inhabited islands have increased almost ten fold over the past five years.

While efforts to further develop the model are continuing with the Addu City guesthouse project, the government has introduced its own integrated resort development concept with a pilot project in Laamu atoll.

The government has touted the project as way to “responsibly diversify” the tourism product while protecting the industry’s high-end luxury image, though critics have questioned the benefit to smaller communities.

Giving the keynote speech at the three-day forum in Colombo, Nasheed said that the success of guest houses had demonstrated that they could bring sustainable businesses to the islands.

“By exploring new policy options – and dealing with key issues such as accessibility, waste or energy – we can build stronger, more sustainable, more inclusive economies,” he said.

He noted that the “ultimate guarantor of success”, however, remained the response to climate change.

“Often, climate change adaptation is the single biggest budget item in small island states. And on current projections that is not expected to get any smaller. So we should support ambitious action internationally, but we can also pursue cleaner development at home.”

Describing the technology of the fossil fuel industry as “Victorian”, Nasheed said that carbon neutrality was possible – as demonstrated by the growing use of solar power in the Maldives, as well as renewable technologies in other small island states.

“The sun is not just for the tourists to enjoy. It is also our biggest energy resource,” he added. “The ocean that surrounds our islands and the sun that shines on us is the future of our survival.”

The government has recently announced a five-year target to generate 30 percent of electricity used during daylight hours in the 196 inhabited islands of the Maldives from renewable energy sources.

Other speakers at this week’s forum include Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Vice President of Hitachi Yasuo Tanabe, and Vice President of the KMSD Asian Development Bank Bondu N. Lohani.

The forum – first held in 2004 – aims this year to discover opportunities for enhancing interregional connectivity and investment within the context of inclusive and sustainable development.

Related to this story

Government launches guest house island project

How will guest house islands benefit the community?

Addu City Council reveals plans to develop 2000 guesthouse beds

Q&A: Minister of Tourism Ahmed Adeeb


3 thoughts on “Millionaire’s dream and Maldivian’s reality can coexist in tourism industry: Nasheed”

  1. We cannot dismiss the technology of the fossil fuel industry as "Victorian"! That implies that it's an undeveloped and inferior technology compared to others. That simply is not the case as the fossil fuel industry has to adapt and use new and innovative technologies to stay ahead, be competitive in a world of diminishing fossil fuel resources.

    Harnessing the power of the sun is not cheap and whether that can be done economically at scale in the inhabited islands of the Maldives (outside the tourism industry) remains to be seen. That still leaves open the question of what to use to power our transport systems, which is entirely dependent on fossil fuel.

  2. I think this guy is crazy .

    He is saying that Gov. also get benefited through one Island and One hotel by earning Lease rent, Tax and Profit Tax.. This guys does not have a brain that 80% of the Gov. revenue generated through tourism.

    Gov., is single largest employment provider in the nation and they are able to do because of tourism.

    Education system is running because of tourism

    Health sectors are managed from the money that get from tourism.

    800 Million was spend to built a ECC during this guy regime and money got through tourism Tax payers money though it was a complete waste of public money to support his thugs .

    GMR bribed him to get the airport under the table is because of Tourism in Maldives.

    Guest House Policy was not something that was introduced by Nasheed and it was the people of Maafushi who did it and not Nasheed.

  3. Farsighted thinking!
    Of course some people may think the guy is going crazy!
    But the fact is the world can be made a much better place with more people who have ideas!
    When the idea of going towards carbon neutrality, much was said about, and jokes were cracked too!
    But today Mr. Champa Hussain Afeef at Gasfinolhu has proven that achieving something towards carbon neutrality is possible!
    Thanks to President Nasheed for the farsightedness, and a vibrant kickstart; And thanks to Champa Afeef for the accomplishment and achievement!


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