Tourism Ministry may revise spa ban

The government is looking to revise the circular issued late last week requesting that resorts, hotels and guesthouses close down their spas over public allegations that they double as brothels.

“As specifying a certain distance from Male’ would not be a wise decision [in closing down spas] and that other resorts, which also cater for locals, are located close to inhabited islands, the government has decided to close down the spas in all the resorts on a fair basis and by giving a higher priority to the allegations made,” the circular read.

The decision to reconsider the circular was made after several resort owners and the Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) expressed “serious concern”.

A statement signed by MATI Secretary General ‘Sim’ Ibrahim Mohamed released last week expressed concern with financial losses as a result of the decision as well as effects on holiday-makers currently in the Maldives.

MATI urged the government and opposition parties to “find a peaceful solution” to the dispute.

“The tourism industry wishes for all actors in the political sphere to prioritise the domestic economy, development and security over differences and disagreements among political parties and not involve the economy’s main industries in these disputes,” reads MATI’s appeal.

MATI’s Chairperson M U Manik and Vice Chair ‘Champa’ Hassan Afeef have made statements in the media urging the government to reverse its decision to shut down resort spas after considering the consequences for the economy.

Meanwhile the government has also announced that it is considering banning pork and alcohol across the country, in response to the large number of Maldivians who protested against the government’s current purported “anti-Islamic” policies.

Tourism Minister Dr Mariyam Zulfa told Haveeru yesterday that the circular was issued in response to demands made by the coalition of religious NGOs and opposition parties during the protest to defend Islam on December 23. These demands included the closure of places which support prostitution, namely spas and massage parlors.

Zulfa noted that a policy shift towards strict Islam would have a profound economic impact on the Maldives.

“We can only sustain our economy by following the moderate form [of Islam] which has been in the Maldives until now,” she told Haveeru. “We [ministers] are labelled anti-Islamic because we support the tolerant form [of Islam]. But that label is a disgrace to our parents as well.”

According to Zulfa, several resorts had raised concern over the circular, and while they “are aware of the reasons that led us to take the decision,” the ministry is investigating a compromise.

The Minister was unavailable for comment at time of press.

Minivan News understands that several tour operators have also been calling resorts to inquire if indeed their spas and massage services have been closed down. Hulhule Island Hotel, near Male’, has closed its spa indefinitely.

Maldives Association of Travel and Tour Operators (MATATO) earlier issued a statement condemning the government’s decision to close five Villa Hotels’ resort spas over allegations of prostitution. MATATO noted that local and foreign resorts, tour operators and travel associations had expressed concern over the decision and that the damage to the industry would be grievous.

“The spa and wellness concept is very popular among tourists,” read the statement. “We urge the government to keep politics away from Tourism and also advise various
Tourism stakeholders as well to do same, as majority of Maldivians depends on Tourism for their livelihood and is something to be dealt with extreme caution and care.”

Today, MATATO did not respond to phone calls.

Speaking at a press conference held the day before the circular was issued, President’s Office Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair justified the strong measure by saying that given the difficulty of distinguishing spas which endorse prostitution from those which do not, and that many high-profile Maldivians visit resort spas, it was important that strict measures be taken to protect those Maldivians’ good names.

Meanwhile, members of the coalition which made the demands have accused the government of “making a mockery of the demands” and “making excuses.”

Alleging that the government is targeting protesters, coalition spokesperson Abdullah Mohamed announced a sixth demand–that the government “stop causing harm to anyone who participates in the religious movement”.

The coalition has given the government until January 5 to fulfill the demands made on December 23, and has warned of further mass protests or direct action in the event that the deadline is not met.


29 thoughts on “Tourism Ministry may revise spa ban”

  1. Stop these foolish measures! Maldives live on tourisme and so on will kill theyself!

  2. Will Minivan stop publishing articles on brothels and sex all the time. As a proud outward looking nation we are becoming tired of being labelled perverts. One day you are talking goats and the next you are talking incest and the next you are talking brothels. You are damaging our international reputation and we are powerless to stop you. This has to stop. I insist it stops this minute!

  3. agree with tsk..
    This has to stop. Minivan is probably doing most damage to the country interms of bringing negative publicity..

  4. @tsk tsk:

    Minivan has the right to publish what it will as long as the publication does not contravene the laws of the Maldives or does not overstep the bounds of common decency as believed by the Maldivian people.

    I have been commenting far longer as tsk tsk than you have so as the old tsk tsk I would just like to say that any stunt by the government that reverses its old stunt is well and fine by me.

    If their negotiations with the tourism old guard has opened the door for casino tourism in this country then I would just like to say that I am not against it. However, as offensive as the Khillaths and Yaamyns of the world may find this, the local population should be protected from engaging in gambling. At least to the extent that they are not allowed to go to such casinos.

  5. Hey guys, come on... I can't believe whats happening...we all know many of our Maldivian friends and relatives abuse drugs and alcohol and ready to jump in to anybody"s bed at a short notice....many maldivians who go to India and srilanka use alcohol... Have abortions ... Go to brothel... And what not...same people cry foul here....ask yourselves... What do you want... You will get the answer...but what you guys are doing is you are deciding for others what they need..... Hypocrisy... are not true to yourself or god... Shame on all of us...

  6. Who is Eleanor Johnstone? Is she a Jew? If so, why is she allowed to write for a 100% muslim website? It is against Islamic laws and the Islamic Maldivian constitution, to allow Jews to generally do anything! An example is flying their planes into the country!

    I kindly advice Miss Eleanor Johnstone to repent, and accept Allah SWT as the only God, and Muhammed SAW as his messenger! This is the only way for you to attain heaven, and escape the punishment of hell, which awaits Jews.

  7. @ the imposter Tsk Tsk

    "Down with Minivan AND down with cigarette prices. Up with goats and up with Adhaalat." New Tsk Tks your inferiority complex or natural racism programs you to see everything through the lens of religious intolerance and barbaric indigenous peoples resisting their benefactors and liberators. You are so damn right you faux-intellectual neo-con you!

  8. @ tsk tsk on Sun, 1st Jan 2012 11:17 PM
    You are the real 'tsk tsk'. Your comments are relatively long and in perfect English - while the fake 'tsk tsk' uses short comments and most of the time are in broken English.

    So I think the readers can easily identify who the real tsk tsk is. I like to say to you is I enjoy reading your comments and please do not stop posting your comments on MN. Thanks.

  9. What is wrong with this Government? Do they not think things through! It wouldn't be too hard to ban Maldivians including the big bosses (if they are locals), from using these facilities instead of closing down.
    Use some commonsense!

  10. @ sheikh imran abdulla. You think you are one funny bastard, huh? Neither the Adhalath lot nor you are funny.

  11. first of all you Maldivians decide what you want ..........bread or God, mild God or hard God.

  12. @ Sheikh Imran Abdullah (Adhalaath Party)"Who is Eleanor Johnstone? Is she a Jew? If so, why is she allowed to write for a 100% muslim website?" Johnstone is not a Jewish name as far as I know. This site has many capable NON MUSLIM infidel journalists, and would be a much poorer news outlet if it followed your advice! The re-think on this ban is very sensible. I doubt any reputable resort allows prostitution as a service.

  13. The other view..

  14. This would be an interesting news piece for Minivan News, during the Scholars conference, all the scholars has accepted that Friday prayers should be conducted at 12:35, accept Sheikh Ibrahim Fareed Ahmed. He is the only scholar who had an objection and wishes to change the time.

  15. This news is all over the international media and will no doubt damage the reputation of the industry quite a bit. A reputation which countless people have worked on for such a long time to build up, but Nasheed is so quick to undermine it all just to score a few cheap political points.

    MATI should sue the government or whoever gave the order, for losses incurred by the resort owners.

  16. Heh! Heh!
    Cannot see who is not performing stunts these days!
    Parliament just resided passing a plastic bill!
    Got to check if it is eating us from both ends!
    Pay um-hundred % + gst!

  17. Government and religious leaders should focus on the problems within this society instead of trying to blame and direct attention elsewhere. It is blatantly obvious that this is what is occurring and it needs to be corrected.

  18. i dont understand why some people do not understand Sheikh Imran figure is an imposter and should be taken with a bit of humor. i enjoy his comments because it really shows the length of stupidity and naivete' mullahs go. (although he is an imposter, he does a good job of it and says exactly what most mullahs dont dare yet to say but are in their hearts)..
    sense of humor is lacking in some commentors here.

  19. Tourism Minister Dr Mariyam Zulfa knows well that these are not what the protesters demanded. Trying to accuse the protesters of false things and causing the country's economy damage with these false news is not good in the long run for our economy.

    Imagine all the tourists that will read in their local newspapers about all these announcements by the Maldives Government? They will not know that this is just a game by the Government to get Maldivians to blame the defend Islam protesters.

    All they will see is the statements made by the Government. Playing politics like this is dangerous for our tourism. Government should know better to not hurt the economy in its battle against the opposition. Your only giving yourselves a further bad name.

  20. I am finding the impostor Sheikh's comments funny (btw, it is not a far stretch from the actual Sheikh - which is scary). I also find Dhivehi Hanguraama's comments funny. Now every time I read an article here I expect the '..garroted on the spot..' and '...may his name ever be prasied". It has been drilled into my head. Doh!

  21. I must say that as an American tourist who has come to the Maldives several years in a row and enjoyed the amazing natural beauty of the county… These protests and radical leanings are frightening, Maldivians certainly have a right to decide how their country is governed, but as a tourist, I have a right to cancel my upcoming vacation… I have no desire to allow my vacation dollars to contribute to radicalism.

  22. Sheikh Imran Abdullah, you are a very hateful little person and there is no place for someone like you in the Modern World. As human beings we need to show tolerance and restraint. There is no hatred in the word of God yet you who proclaim to be so close to God seem to be full of hatred, perhaps Satan has overcome your better judgment. You should really refrain from voicing your hateful views in a public forum because you do not represent Islam and the views of the greater Islamic community and you make all of us look bad. Shame on you.

  23. @ Everybody
    Please see the above comment from David.
    That's what happen when government plays the religious card. Foreigners who have no clue about everyday life in Maldives will only be exposed to what is written in media and in english language. What they have read from media is all hogwash this time. But who are we to tell them? They will have read this bad news about from their CNN second handed but who can tell them the real story that nothing has changed on the ground? That the government is just playing a dangerous political game and Maldives is still the same country they visited last year? That the sun still rises here and the resorts still have white sandy beaches, sells alcohol and the spas are still open. who will tell this to the likes of David?

  24. A real bombshell and poor judgement by MOT to issue the ban before discussion with resort interest holders. Trying to play religion-politics at the expense of commercial tourist establishment will bring Maldives to the knees i'm sure. Follow what Indonesia does - be secular, Religion is totally out of Politics, mixing it would be a timebomb. As a good friend of Maldives, my advise is reverse the decision rightaway, and settle amicably before it becomes a man-made tsunamis.


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