Analysis: Economy at stake as political turmoil grips Maldives

The tourism industry stands to lose as much as US$100 million in the next six months, the Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) has warned, due to widespread media coverage of the country’s political unrest.

“Potential visitors are questioning the safety and security in the island nation as the political turmoil in Maldives makes headlines in a large number of international media,” claimed MATI in a recent statement, adding that resorts had registered 500 cancellations in the first week following the change of government.

“Various allegations such as the installation of an Islamic regime, possible enactment of full Sharia law and Anti Semitic remarks made by politicians at public gatherings have also caught the attention of the international press,” MATI stated.

With no election date in sight, the economic consequences of the ongoing political turmoil in the Maldives are likely to be far reaching. The ongoing climate of uncertainty – anathema to business, foreign investment and especially tourism – is likely to persist while the ousted Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) continues to challenge the legitimacy of the new government, which in turn has resisted setting a date for early elections despite pressure from a growing number of international bodies.

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The Maldives’ resort industry is so insulated from the rest of the country that few arriving tourists are likely to be even aware of the unfolding political crisis – let alone be impacted by it. Arriving guests are collected at the airport and whisked off by resort representatives the moment they step through the departure gate – Male’ is nothing more than an interesting piece of scenery as the seaplane lifts off.

“That message is not going out,” says newly appointed Tourism Minister Ahmed Adheeb. “People don’t know that the resorts are separate [from the rest of the Maldives], and international headlines have made people panic.”

The need for an economy is one of the only subjects the major parties agree on – and the US$3 billion tourism industry is by far the biggest earner, and indirectly responsible for over 70 percent of the economy.

“Tourism is so much connected to the economy. We cannot afford to involve politics in the industry,” Adheeb says.

MATI’s Secretary General, Sim Mohamed Ibrahim, agrees: “The travelling public don’t always know that it is one resort, one island, and that the resorts are cushioned from the unrest. This has mostly taken place in in Male’ and Addu. The resorts are far removed from the unrest.”

That policy of segregation is now being tested after weeks of turbulent headlines in international media, focusing not only on the political crisis and police crackdowns, but other issues such as the contrast between the Western hedonism of the resorts and rising religious fundamentalism in other parts of the country.

“The main problem is that the media is now portraying the Maldives as a hardcore Islamic country, which is putting people off,” reported Tourism Review.

MATI’s concerns appeared echoed in the new government’s aggressive response to negative media coverage on Friday, during a strident speech by the formerly demure President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan.

“We are not afraid to die as martyrs. We are not afraid of the enemies we face,” Dr Waheed told the crowd of over five thousand, while sharing the stage with several of the country’s wealthiest resort tycoons.

“We must be sad that the enemies and traitors of the Maldives are spreading lies in various places of the world to tarnish the country’s image. They are the real conspirators. Those who defame the Maldives to destroy its industries and tourism are enemies of this country,” he said.

The true impact of recent events on tourism is hard to gauge, amid the industry’s efforts to play down negative media coverage and preserve the country’s reputation as a safe, peaceful and relaxing travel destination for well-heeled visitors.

“There have been some reported cancellations, although no data is available yet,” a senior tourism official told Minivan News. “A lot of resorts are very concerned and are asking what’s around the corner. We’ve no answer to that yet.”

Adheeb said the Tourism Ministry was presently “crunching the numbers”.

Reports at the height of the crisis in early February suggested that tourists hardly put down their cocktails: “We are having a great time. We heard about the coup, but it doesn’t matter to us,” a professor of American literature told Reuters, between sips – “And even if there is trouble, the airport is on another island, so no trouble.”

The situation was not considered so severe that people were cancelling their holidays, the tourism official told Minivan News, but a lot of resort owners were expressing concern about forward bookings, he said.

Furthermore, while the guests might be unconcerned about the Maldivian political situation, many of the Maldivian staff serving them certainly were.

“The beauty of the Maldivian tourism product is that resorts are safe even if there are local problems,” the official told Minivan News. “But 50,000 Maldivians work in the industry, and they are largely from the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP). Morale of the staff may be affected – staff are talking and unsettled, and they will pass that onto guests. Tourism is a contact sport and many visitors will build a rapport with their waiter or butler, and it will spill out.”

One resort manager expressed concern that the combination of staff morale and isolation was a “powder keg” for strike action.

Lack of information and fears for the safety of family members appears to be another factor – visiting a resort on Baa Atoll recently, Minivan News was approached by staff members concerned for family members in Addu Atoll, following the police crackdown after the destruction of their buildings on February 8.

‘Travel Advisory’

A travel advisory issued by Salisbury-based NGO Friends of Maldives (FOM), urging visitors to avoid Bandos and all Villa properties (Sun, Paradise, Royal and Holiday Islands), has received a mixed reaction.

“These are places linked to individuals or groups who we suspect to be involved in the subversion of democracy and in human rights abuses in the Maldives,” FOM said in its accompanying statement, but emphasised that it was not a blanket boycott of the Maldives.

“We appreciate the Maldives economy relies hugely on the tourism economy, and so we aren’t asking for tourists to avoid the Maldives – rather we are asking them to make an informed and ethical decision to choose out of around a hundred resorts that aren’t associated with the the coup d’état and the human rights abuses that occurred following the event,” said FOM’s founder, David Hardingham.

MATI meanwhile condemned “in strongest possible terms” the “call for a boycott of some Maldivian tourist resorts”.

“MATI believes that any action detrimental to the tourism industry of the Maldives will have serious implications for the country’s economy. We believe that those who refer to themselves as friends of the Maldivian people must realise that such damaging measures taken against he tourism industry result in harming public welfare and those most vulnerable in society.”

The travel advisory was “very hurtful”, added Adheeb.

“Something like this can really affect the whole industry and bring a lot of sorrow,” the tourism minister said. “A lot of Maldivians work in these resorts. We say to FOM that it’s too early to judge – there are a lot of negative things happening in our country, so let things unfold first. We request that they not play with our industry.”

The senior tourism official also expressed concern about the potential impact of the advisory on resort staff – many of whom were MDP. He also warned against rhetoric suggesting that resort owners were responsible “for the coup” – a theme begun by Nasheed after his ousting, and picked up by several international publications.

“This cannot blamed on resort owners,” he said. “That a few businessmen who own resorts toppled the government does not means that all resorts are ‘pro-coup’ – many actually supported Nasheed, and he still has a lot of support there.”

The official also questioned whether an ‘appeal-to-conscience’ would really affect tourists’ decision to come to the Maldives, regardless of whether it was a democracy or dictatorship.

“Most people don’t really make travel decisions based on ethical or moral concerns. It’s a small percentage of the market,” he said.

Sim agreed – “People do not travel to the Maldives based on questions of morality” – but said the impact remained to be seen.

“People do not travel to destinations that are in any way not peaceful, or are experiencing civil unrest,” he said.

The Maldives tourism industry began in the 70s and grew in a peaceful environment under the autocratic stability of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

Now, however, unhappy supporters of Nasheed have been bolstered by the growing ranks of the democratically disenfranchised, who seem in no hurry to relax their demands for early elections.

The uncertainty in such a climate of political statement can hardly be good for business – and the signs are beginning to show.

Investor confidence

On February 17, just over a week after the change of government, India’s Economic Times reported that the State Bank of India (SBI) had issued a moratorium on fresh loans in the Maldives until June.

SBI held a quarter of all deposits in the Maldives and had issued 42 percent of all loans, according to the Times.

“In 2009, SBI bailed out Maldives from a severe foreign exchange crisis when it subscribed to US$100million dollar-denominated treasury bonds issued by the Maldivian Monetary Authority (MMA),” the paper added, citing an Indian government official.

Given SBI’s contribution to the tourism industry in the Maldives, “that is something we are very concerned about,” Adheeb acknowledged.

“I would like to give confidence to investors that we will make sure we are stable and consultative, and will not bring politics into tourism,” he added.

Sim pointed out that if SBI had taken such a stance, “it is likely that other people will also view it this way. Stability in the country is most important to investors,” he said.

“SBI has also previously said they have a problem with the judiciary, and that this has contributed to a [lack of] investor confidence.”

Concerns about the impartiality of the justice system and its resistance to reform eventually led Nasheed’s government to detain Chief Judge of the Criminal Court, Abdulla Mohamed, and call for the UN and Commonwealth to help resolve the crisis. Two weeks later, opposition supporters and rogue elements of the police and military toppled Nasheed’s government, prompting his resignation.

“This is a problem for potential investors. If you invest and something goes wrong, all roads lead to a Maldivian court – and who’d want that?” the tourism official asked Minivan News.

In the immediate aftermath of what Nasheed’s supporters contend was a coup d’état, “a lot of contracts that are half completed have been stopped, and those by the previous government politicised and halted. We’ve become a nightmare client by not following through on agreements,” the official told Minivan News.

“Anyone who has not been paid for goods delivered is in a bad situation right now – it’s not good for our reputation,” he said.

Wider economic impact

The tourism industry is not only culturally insulated from the rest of the Maldives, but also economically.

Most resorts charge in dollars – a practice that technically contravenes monetary authority regulations but is widely overlooked – and bank overseas in more financially and politically-stable economies, such as Singapore.

Beyond import duties, credit card fees and assorted taxes, very little foreign currency trickles into the country, given the size of the tourism industry. Which, with the introduction of the 3.5 percent tourism GST last year, was found to be two to three times larger than previous estimates.

At the same time, with little to no demand for the local currency at even a transactional level, the rest of country suffers from an enduring dollar shortage.

Furthermore, 50 percent of tourism industry employees are expatriate and remit their income, while local staff are typically paid in Maldivian rufiya – tips and service charge aside.

The result is a troubled economy that remains dependent on foreign aid, despite having a per-capita income high enough to in 2011 see the Maldives become one of only three countries to ever graduate from the UN’s definition of a Least Developed Country (LDC), to ‘Middle Income’.

That progression limits the country’s access to concessional credit, removes certain trade concessions, and some donor aid – as well creating a perception in the donor community that the Maldives is ‘less deserving’ than countries still on the LDC list.

Swedish Ambassador accredited to the Maldives, Lars-Olof Lindgren, said as much in May 2011. Sweden, he said, “has very strict of GDP per-capita criteria and has decided to focus its aid elsewhere on least developed countries, particularly in Africa.”

“At the same time, certainly I think we have to look at other aspects of the Maldives – the fact the country taking first steps as a democratic country, steps towards getting the party system to work – that is one reason why the international community should support this – support not only government, but the whole society,” he told Minivan News last year.

Climate aid to a great extent filled the void, with countries ranging from Denmark to the US lining up to commit to infrastructure projects – harbours, water treatment plants, waste management centres – under the banner of climate adaption and mitigation.

Much of that was prompted by Nasheed’s high profile on the world stage as an environmental campaigner, with wealthy countries happy to share the limelight and demonstrate eco-credentials to their own, increasingly climate-conscious public.

That environmental focus also “absolutely changed how the destination was marketed”, the tourism official told Minivan News.

“Nasheed was synonymous with that, and the photo of the underwater cabinet meeting is one of the most famous in the Maldives. It was a brilliant gimmick that summed up the challenges,” he said.

Now, several foreign diplomats from current donors have privately expressed concern that with the political instability, Commonwealth jitters and contentious legitimacy of the new government, such funding will be a harder sell to the public and aid agencies in their home countries: “We will fulfill our existing commitments,” one promised.

The Chinese bellwether

The weathervane on the Maldivian tourism economy is likely to be the Chinese market. With belts tightening in the Maldives’ traditional lucrative markets in Europe – particularly Italy and the UK – surging interest in the Maldives tourism product from China has cushioned the industry in the wake of the 2008 financial economic crisis.

In the first seven months of 2011, Chinese visitors accounted for 19.9 percent of the total arrivals. By the end of the year the figure had increased to 23 percent – figures backed by Beijing’s stamp of approval that the Maldives was an acceptable destination for Chinese tour operators to send customers by the thousand.

“We don’t deal with numbers like that from any other country,” the tourism official told Minivan News.

“Chinese guests tend to respect authority – and currently the Chinese government is saying that the situation is OK. As soon as the Chinese authorities say they are concerned, 23 percent of the market will disappear. We can regard the Chinese as either directly in or out,” he said.

Adheeb observed that the Chinese market was “sensitive to international headlines”.

There had been a dip in Chinese arrivals, he noted, but this could be attributed to the aftermath of Chinese New Year.

Sim said the Chinese market was “particularly vulnerable, as they make decisions based on information they are given. It has been Chinese New Year so the dropoff in numbers is hard to separate from those put off by the political unrest,” he said.

Most Chinese arrivals come through package tour operators, who are extremely sensitive to travel warnings. The Chinese government currently has no warning for the Maldives, however neighbouring Hong Kong on February 8 placed the country on an “amber alert”, alongside Pakistan, Russia and Iran.

The language barrier can complicate efforts to reassure the market, particularly on the Chinese side.

One Shanghai-based travel agent, Sun Yi, told Minivan News she was faced with many cancellations just two days after the events of February 7.

”It has seriously affected our business. Many guests cancelled the Maldivian holiday package which used to be very popular,” she explained, adding that her company had suspended plans to hold a commerical event at a Maldives resort this spring.

“Quite a lot of Chinese customers are very concerned of this situation. Some of them are hesitant to make reservations now,” said Emy Zheng, a Chinese national working at Villuxa Holidays.

Recent reports in Chinese media have been reassuring: one honeymooner, Zhou Xiaoyi, told China Daily that he had considered cancelling his trip, but had only been offered a 2.5 percent refund on his prepaid ticket.

“The travel agency said most of our prepayment had been spent on reservations on flights and hotels,” Xiaoyi told China Daily. “So we decided to come anyway and found that our honeymoon was little influenced. We also saw other Chinese people here.”

Much of the tourism industry in the Maldives maintains a wary distance from Maldivian politics, but ongoing political turbulence, protests, confrontational rhetoric, dark mutterings from the staff quarters and ultimately an economic threat such as a loan crisis or plunge in Chinese interest could haul the problem into the industry’s backyard.

With 70 percent of the economy at stake, were that to happen the matter of the government’s legitimacy and the colour of the flag in the President’s office would fast become the least of the country’s worries.

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53 thoughts on “Analysis: Economy at stake as political turmoil grips Maldives”

  1. The economy is unimportant. It is preferrable to live in destitution and poverty if prosperity will afford idols, fornication and the scriptures of false religions to those wayward souls who are already much too weak in their devotion to our creator.

    Luxury should be the privilege of learned men, that they might meditate and expound upon the lofty principles of our noble faith, not the right of foolish commoners and immodest women, who are lax in religion and deficient in intellect.

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  2. who is David Hardingham ? is he Maldivian ? what business does he have in maldives to interfere in internal affairs of maldives ? is he going to pay the salaries of 100s of employees in these particular resorts ? is he going to support these employees families ? can he provide jobs for these employees ? who is he planning to harm ? maldivian people ? or are these just collateral damage ? maldives is not UK ..everything is connected with tourism .everyones livelyhood is connected to it..gasim doesnt run his resorts on his own ..there 100s of employees depending on him 100s of students depending him ..there may be other ways to attack him ..this is certainly not the way to do so..killing the revenue stream for many maldivian families.. shame on all of you who supports this agenda..!

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  3. God willing, we will bounce back with greater prosperity from any impact Nasheed and his cronies are bringing to the country by spreading lies in the international media.

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  4. Keep away from the Villa Hotels and Spas, Boycott Villa Gas.

    Keep away from Bandos.

    They are are the true terrorists.

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  5. There is absolutely no problem in the resorts of Maldives, its safe and sound for your holidays but avoid Sultan Hotels of Thasneem Ali, Villa Hotels of Gasim Ibrahim, Crown Company Saleem Hotel these are the coup leaders.

    Questions is when you tan and rest under the warm tropical sun and have diner under the moon and stars with palm trees caressing your skin, dancing on the white sandy beaches with your beloved once, moving to your favorite songs, will you seriously be comfortable when you think about its citizens are being brutalized by an illegitimate government, who over threw a democratic government by these people by spending the money you give them

    WE are human being just like you are, bleeding in our Islands literally, we may be poor, less uneducated but we have children, wife's, Mothers and Fathers who are being beaten, broken bones, torn muscles and literally bleeding on the street in Addu.

    Question is will you enjoy your holiday and don't care a damn about us.

    Villa Hotels, Bandos Hotel, Crown Company Hotels needs to be avoided.

    Boycott them, go back home and spread the word to boycott these peoples resort, Villa Paradise Hotel are not at all Paradise.

    Note these names, Gasim Ibrahim Villa Hotesl, Waheedheen Bandos and its hotels

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  6. Why worry about the economy?
    If all goes according to PPM's plan, Maumoon will rule this country as the President in 2013, with Yaamyn as his VP.
    Dr Waheed will be very effectivley kicked out. He will be seen nowhere. It would be "Waheed-go" all over again.
    Mean while, the Kaaminee youngsters will be pushed into the government one by one while Dr Waheed can be controlled by Maumoon.
    Whether they are capable or not does not matter.
    We are already seeing this happen. The Foreign Ministry, that is such an important office of the government, especially at this crucial juncture, has Maumoon's daughter as its State Minister. She will do nothing but spread Maummon's propaganda -- that is the only thing she is capable of doing.
    We will soon see other children of Maumoon planted in top positions of the government.
    They will spread Maumoon's propaganda to the locals.
    By the time 2013, comes, all will be set for PPM to take over.
    The country's economy, health, education and anything else will also be managed by the Kaaminee brothers' team.
    We, ordinary folks will have to just wait and see how successful their plan will be.

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  7. It's funny, the same people who orchestrated instability are also major stakeholders of tourism industry. The champa brothers and villa Gasim.

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  8. You see, insisting in these blind believes will be the demise of Maldives. A number of powerful guys keep drumming the Islam drum and in the end Maldives will pay dearly such Arab indoctrination. If you are going to believe in something, believe in yourself and your traditions and forget foreign gods. Besides, probably there is no god, so enjoy yourself.

    Live well, love much and laugh often.

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  9. Maybe when we start starving people will finally come to their senses. when these same businesses were supporting mdp, the opposition never called a boycott.so who are extremists?

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  10. This article is on target. The Chinese market has dropped off a lot from what was expected. China Southern airlines has stopped it's scheduled flights as has China Eastern Airlines. Mega Maldives had to stop its Hong Kong flight, but continues to hold on to its Shanghai and Beijing flight, but loads are way down. Many other charter flight stopped earlier than planned, including Hong Kong Airlines. Aside from China, the same reaction is happening in Japan and Korea. Those markets are smaller, but they tend to buy at the high end of the market and together they are about as big as Russia in terms of visitors to the Maldives.

    It may take some time for domestic politics to settle down, but any more reports about violence, like the one today from Addu and we will be in real trouble. I thought maybe Waheed was going to govern smoothly as a technocrat, but his speach a few days ago suggests he wants to promote a divide and conflict in politics and religion. This kind of politics will lead to tour operators and investors looking elsewhere to take their business... and they have choice too. Mauritius and Seychelles people are running around China trying to open their market. So is Hawaii and others. Maldives isn't the only choice for all these tourists.

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  11. JJ ROB!!! FOR GOD SAKE PLEASE DON'T SPREAD MDP (MORE SPECIFICALLY REKKO,AND MARIYA) PROPAGANDA!!! THE ECONOMY IS GOING DOWN THE DRAIN BECAUSE OF NASHEED, GAYOOOM AND OTHER CLOSELY LINKED CRONIES AROUND THESE TWO!! THESE TWO FOOLS (NASHEED AND GAYOOM) DOESN'T CARE ABOUT THIS ECONOMY OR THE CITIZENS OF THIS COUNTRY! ALL THEY CARE IS OF THEIR DESIRE/HUNGER FOR POWER!!! I AM SHOCKED BEYOND MY IMAGINATION WHY JJ YOU ARE SERVING THE MR.NASHEED, WHILE YOU KNOW NASHEED IS DISTORYING THIS COUNTRY JUST THE SAME WAY GAYOOM DID YEARS BACK AND NOW!! I KNOW JJ YOU PEACE FOR THIS COUNTRY BUT YOU ARE STUCK WITH HIM? PLEASE DO THE RIGHT THING!! THINK!!

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  12. Nightmare with this false stability and false government. We have no friends internationally anymore! With the bad supreme court no longer challenged who in their right mind would invest here now???

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  13. Why does'nt the new government ask the PREACHING BUDDIST and passing friend / advisor what the right answer is to the economy with no international credibility?

    So much for 100% Islam fight to the death hard talk!!

    The MDP made mistakes - but this lot are far worse in a fraction of the time.

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  14. It's dawning, albeit slowly, on the perpetuators of the coup that they had miscalculated the public outrage and the international pressure which resulted. The smarter ones are silent and the stooges, dumbest of whom shout the loudest.

    The economy is so intertwined with international goodwill that Dr. Waheed playing the religious card whilst in the int'l spotlight on, was downright blasphemous. Yet Waheed has to tow the line for his masters, endangering the economy and what little dignity he himself has left.

    I hope Dr. Waheed realizes that time is running short and ends this sad episode of our political history. Or else, whether he likes it or not he will be the face of a regime so brutal, that a legitimate resurrection of his career in any field would be rendered impossible.

    "I'm in blood stepped in so far should I wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o'er"
    Macbeth

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  15. Of course such a turmoil is not going to stay out of the international news and youtube. Beyond the demonstrations, what scares potential tourists the most are the latest religious speeches and texts written by extremists.
    International guests don't care about what is going on here, what they want is a safe place. If the destination is becoming or perceive as being unsafe, they will move on. This will be a huge loss for the Maldives and undermine the incredible work done since the tsunami.
    Nasheed was pro-tourism, it seems Waheed is not.
    Waheed does not seem ready to talk about elections, his speech on the artificial beach was very violent, so I guess the Maldives are going to loose bit by bit 3 billion dollars in revenue.
    It seems the extremists don't care about it (many examples in the comments we can read on all news sites and particularly this one), well neither do the tourists. Good luck.

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  16. “The main problem is that the media is now portraying the Maldives as a hardcore Islamic country, which is putting people off,”

    Make no mistake about it; Maldives is headed towards a very dangerous and intolerant form of Islamic radicalisation. Waheed has got no choice in the matter and he is towing the line of his sponsors who are all using the religious card with vengence.

    Just today, Waheed announced that they will open a new "Islam and Arabic" school in Fuvahmulah. These are the beginnings of Pakistan style Madhrasas all over the country, ladies and gentlemen. They will breed the next generation of hardline Islamic fanatics. We have to rise to save the nation.

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  17. As tough as the loss of revenue is going to be, I do not agree with those who are suggesting that we should hide what is happening in the Maldives from tourists.

    This is not a question of 'image': it is about telling the truth or lying. Islamic extremism is destroying Maldivian way of life. It is a fact. To tell the tourists otherwise, or to actively try and hide it from them--just because our geography makes it easy to do so--is not merely just another exercise in PR but an outright lie.

    If conscientious tourists are what it finally takes to free Maldivians from the captivity of extremists, then so be it. It is not like the average Maldivian is benefitting from the industry anywhere near as much as they should be anyway. Like JJ has pointed out, the dollars go outside, and so do the profits. What remains in the Maldives is pocketed a handful of industry moguls.

    Besides, what the tourists are hearing about is reality on the ground. If they boycott our tourism industry because of it we may loose money in the short term; but, we are more likely to regain our identity and freedom in the long run. Only a calamity would force us from our current stupor.

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  18. They seem not to understand this :
    a) The kind of people I know in mainly Europe, India too, are not really feeling going to countries where a regimes rules. I have never been, not any of my family or friends either. In contrary in fact. And yes, we do care about that.
    b) tourists being whisked away to resorts ? Sounds not really that relaxed.
    c) I can personally confirm that local extremists ARE busy with speeches and sending sms to blame white volunteers n tourists for being missionaries. It happens NOW. On islands of Maldives.
    d) only 18 of my friends so far have canceled now, 2 left. Money from tourists which would have gone straight to the small entrepreneurs, not the big resorts.
    Hope to come back soon, in a democratic Maldives, name not changed ...

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  19. Truth isn't what is being presented here. What's being presented is a bunch unproven allegations, and the political rhetoric, made only from one side. The police or the military, or the other parties don't have the same resources as mdp. for instance they don't have classmates that are personal friends of british mp's.they don't have a team of foreign strategists with connections to major international media sources.

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  20. The wolrd is not doing enough to protect the demacracy in the maldives.dr waheed and his extremists are waging war against democracy and the people.they must be stopped and democracy must not fail.

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  21. The irony is that these moguls who've suddenly found hitherto unseen amount of love for Islam and who claim ready for martyrdom are the ones who are actually benefitting the most from their "anti-Islamic" activities!

    As already mentioned many times over, Burumaa Gasim is milking the tourism cow with one hand, and claiming to wield the sword for Islam with the other hand. Burumaa is joined many of his colleagues. The worrying thing is, these guys are able to buy the loyalty of several thousand people by open bribery.

    I think the crux of the matter is simply this. Imagine a day when Maldivians won't be swayed by rhetoric from some Mullah about hell fire if you do not follow this or that dogma. When that happens, the wannabee politicians will have to come out with real substance to differentiate themselves. They really do not want to face that day.

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  22. @Ahmed bin Addu bin Suvadheeb

    I totally agree. Islam was rammed down the Maldivians' throats in the 1200 and in the process they scared the population with Allah's bad temper. I heard so called an islamic scholar telling people to pray properly or Allah is going to send us another tsunami. This is what religion does, gains controlled over humble illiterate people. Shameful!

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  23. With a large contingent of Human Rights activists gathering at ITB fair, Maldives tourism industry will go to the dogs. Waheed should call for fresh elections to avoid keeping empty rooms in the country. With London Olympics and Euro 2012, the resorts will go empty.

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  24. No body is worried accept MDPs 1500 political appointees and board chairmans who take fat salaries, that is almost 50% of the national budget. Then the Minivan news seems very worried about their very existence to spread hatred and rumors as news.

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  25. Ever since Nasheed started as activist, he has been a problem to our nation. Then he became our president and destroyed our economy. Now he resigned still goes on destroying our nation.
    He is mad man loose in our country...please go back where you belong.

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  26. @Radhun

    "Ever since Nasheed started as activist, he has been a problem to our nation." Says it all about where you stand in all this, doesn't it? You'd rather dictatorship than democracy. Or is it monarchy you want, 'Radhun' ?

    @ coconut - you are refusing to see what is around you, shutting your ears to what is being said. Unless you stop living in this parallel universe of your own creation, you and your ilk will continue to aid and abet our destruction.

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  27. You can't have a military coup and whip up public hatred towards non Muslims then expect the free world to visit us.
    If you want to blame someone it is Gayyoom and his pup Gasim who should take responsibility for ruining the economy of this country. They want power no matter what. They have destroyed a fragile democracy and abused Islam to futher their own ambitions. We are on to you.

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  28. I am a frequent visitor to the Maldives - but no longer. I have no intention of returning to such an unstable, corrupt and backward country. I have now booked two luxury long haul holidays this year in other parts of the world instead of returning to the Maldives.

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  29. The current government is made up of Islamic extremists political party, dictators Maumoon family's political party and Dictator Maummons criminal elements who do money-laundering, traffic drugs to Europe on chartered tourist yachts.

    Dr. Waheeds Unity Government vilifies Jews and Christians on their political rallies and religious sermons to advance their draconian system of governance.

    Europe should cut ties with the current Dr. Waheeds regime, by sending tourists to Villa resorts, Chamapa resorts and Crown Tours resorts you are financing to create hatred towards Europeans & Americans, Jews And Christians.

    NGOs should advocate Tour operators to boycott resorts operated by the regime backer, specially Villa, Champa and Crown Tours.

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  30. If players in the Tourism Industry are involved in Politics they can expect retribution! They have been very negative and confrontational in their dealings with MDP Government. They feel they can bully everyone else! I am not at all sympathetic towards the Tourism Industry!

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  31. @Dhivesseh - I am refusing to believe a certain version of events because there are conflicting versions of it.See for instance the interviews given by mndf and police personnel or the new defense minister to local tv. as for aiding and abetting our destruction, you're the one calling for boycotts of maldivian resorts not me.they can easily be beaten by a vote, there is no need to contribute to the economic damage.

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  32. Excellent analysis! Brilliant!

    "portraying the Maldives as a hardcore Islamic country,"

    Maldives IS a hardcore Islamic country in meantime, thats the fact. Maldivians should get aware of this.
    Maldives is together with Saudi Arabia the only country in the world not tolerating other religions ("Islam is tolerant" Gayum said recently-hehehe).

    Maldives ranks no.6 in the world-list persecuting
    Christians next to ill repotted neighbors such as Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan. This was in the international press.
    As well in the headlines was this childish demolition of the SAARC-Buddhas.
    The demolition of Buddha-statues in the Museum on Feb.8th, brought Maldives a Taliban- comparison and Taliban-image in the Non-Muslim world.

    On top of we find these painful statements of an opportunistic President and an close-to- analphabetic resort-tycoon named Ghasim, who have no idea what problems they may creating with their Taliban-languague.

    How will the ordinary tourist feel about? What will an investor think? Answer it by yourself.

    Well- its going down the drain.
    I trust, Maldivians will know to whom to present the bill, when the time comes.

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  33. How should we go to a country where no assurance to our life? Maldives is really a hard core Islamic state.

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  34. Islam, islam , islam, islam, islam
    Politics, politics, politics, politics
    No much else going on in the BORING Maldives it seems.
    But then you are a backward islamist state so I guess it all makes sense.
    Democracy in the Maldives?.....dream on.
    Women getting the vote in Saudi Arabia?.....heck no.
    Repeal of the blasphemy law in Pakistan?.....not anytime soon.
    Nine year old girls getting married in Yemen?.....Ayesha was nine so its OK.
    You sunni muslims are not very progressive.........are you darlings?

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  35. Yes, Maldives is a pure Sunni Islamic country. We consider Shias as Kafirs. We don't want even Shias let alone other Kafirs!

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  36. We do not need to be "progressive", you foolish harlot from India. To be "progressive" is to be a slave of Shait'an; to be a vapid fool, chasing the pleasures of the flesh.

    Stop pestering this site with your senseless rants.

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  37. @Indira NewDelhi

    Whatever your reasons for writing the way you do, you are showing up as an Islamaphobe, intolerant, patronising and small minded.

    FYI, Islam is not just a religion, it is a complete system, whole and complete and just. As President Nasheed said in one of his speeches,an Islamic state is a democratic state. Islam is a religion that promotes equality, justice and human rights. The principles of democracy is grounded in Islam, integrity, transparency, freedom of speech, human rights, human dignity, distribution of wealth, tolerance, justice for all.

    What we want in the Maldives is a fair and just society.

    What Saudi Arabia or Pakistan does is the choice of their leaders and their people. Its their business, not ours. What we do as we build our new democracy is what we choose.

    At a time when our nation is hurting, our people split in opposite camps, and a judicial system that cynically violates our rights for justice, your comments seek to inflame, provoke and insult.

    Give us inspiration, guidance, and direction for healing and reconciliation in our troubled times,if you care. If you don't, why don't you move to another blog to vent your spiteful ill informed comments.

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  38. @Indira NewDelhi

    And by the way, I forgot to add,

    Women in Saudhi Arabia do have the vote now. (BBC September 25 2011).

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  39. @Shafeea

    There is no vote in Saudi Arabia, you retard. They are not heretics like us, that they would embrace such a foolish and Satanic form of government.

    Women are to be allowed to vote in their shura council by 2016, as a concession to placate the persistent hipster feminists they haven't have had the good sense to behead yet - nevertheless, an absolute Monarchy they remain.

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  40. @ Shafeea
    Its indeed rich for you to call me intolerant and small minded. If you practice some introspection you will see what an ignorant, racist and intolerant people you are. You have no respect for anyone who does not subscribe to your fundamentalist sunni muslim faith....including other non sunni muslims and even the tourists that you despise and who put food on your tables. Let me give you some examples:
    The Vilu Reef marriage incident.....tolerant?
    The deportation of Shijo Kokkattu.....tolerant?
    The destruction of the SAARC monuments.....tolerant?
    The destruction of buddhist artifacts in the National Museum.....tolerant?
    If this is tolerance then your definition of the word is very different to mine.
    I keep comparing you to the other backward sunni nations of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan because you also subscribe to the same intolerant deobandi theology.....where you are 'God's Chosen People' and us idol worshippers are just garbage. This is the crap you instill in your children from childhood. Maybe you should read the Saudi and Pakistani press sometime to realise how much you have in common. Better still, pay more attention to the racist hate filled rantings of the mad mullahs in your own mosques.
    If I am an Islamophobe, it is your hate filled attitude that has created me. Bigotry and intolerance can work both ways you know.
    SO HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE AT THE RECEIVING END OF..... MALDIVIAN STYLE....BIGOTRY AND INTOLERANCE EH?
    @ Dhivehi Hangyourself
    If you are looking for harlots, look no further than your own family.
    Make sure.....whilst you are writing your usual hate filled drivel on this website.....that your womenfolk are not moonlighting as 'massueses' and 'hostesses' in the tourist resorts.
    Mind you, I doubt if any european or chinese tourist will be turned on at the sight of a fat veiled woman!!
    My apologies to all fat veiled women unrelated to this odious creep.

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  41. I lived for one year in the Maldives. My Maldivean friends called me Nadhima. They are peaceful, warm, generous and very accepting people. However, the strict Islamic way of life imposed on them often seemed to cage them. During Ramadan many of my colleagues had to hide to drink water. They were working in the sun all day. Yet, there was a deep respect for one another. Should not all religions be personal and not be used in politics. Freedom of choice... I cannot believe in this day and age that people have to suffer due to religious fundamentalism. Maldives is one of the most beautiful places I have had the pleasure of experiencing. Not only due to its amazing scenery but also its beautiful people. Please don't let some small minority mess it up...

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  42. Indira NewDelhi

    In every society we have groups of people who are racist intolerant sexist, and who believe their view of life and how things are the right way. Their way or the highway. The Maldives has such groups of people just as other countries. Their belief systems do not define who we are as a people.

    I have lived in countries where young girls were burned with their husbands often in their 60s and 70s to whom they were given in marriage, died. I have seen children doing slave labour. I have seen young girls whose tongues were cut out by their parents so they would get more money when they were sent out to beg. I have spoken to women who had relatives burnt by their in laws because they didn't bring enough dowry or didnt give them sons etc etc. There is plenty of intolerance and injustice everywhere you look.

    We Maldivian are finding our way to a tolerant and just society. And by Allahs grace we will do so.

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  43. Shafeea,
    In every country there are criminals and evil people, but the state and constitution has to protect all religions and even atheists. Maldives is an intolerant bigoted nation where there is no separation of mosque and state. In Maldives you can not build churches or temples. Islam is fundamentally is incompatible with democracy. Out of 58 Islamic countries how many really have true democracy. don't cry for democracy in Maldives, you are destined to be ruled by Islam and corrupt dictators!

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