How will guest house islands benefit the community?

With the unveiling of the first guest house island plan this week, industry experts have questioned whether the government’s new guest house tourism policy will benefit the local communities in the same was as past approaches.

“The guest house is a policy – a development implement,” said former Minister for Economic Development Mahmud Razee.

“It should be an equitable thing – if it is purely a tourism policy that is only on a selected island, then we are moving away from the fundamental issue of enabling all Maldivians to benefit from tourism.”

The model’s first project – the Thumburi ‘Integrated Resort Development’ scheme – was launched on Monday night (June 23), being branded as a way to “responsibly diversify the tourism product of the Maldives”.

Recent guest house development – reintroduced by the Maldivian Democratic Party after a decades-long hiatus – was intended to open up the billion dollar tourism market to small and medium sized businesses.

While the placement of guest houses on local island was also intended to stimulate the local economies, concern was expressed by religious groups regarding the impact on local communities.

President Yameen’s guest house island policy – included in his election manifesto – instead plans to recreate the more traditional resort concept, with the participation of multiple smaller entrepreneurs.

“Once again today we are looking to diversify tourism, to shape it in a different way. It does not mean moving away from the existing concept of having one resort on one island,” said Yameen at Monday’s launch.

Yameen also revealed that future developments would take place within proposed special economic zones, which will cede local authority to incoming foreign investors as part of  a system of incentives agreed upon at the government’s discretion.

‘A new concept for a world class brand’

Describing the project as “a new concept for a world class brand”, the Thumburi brochure reveals plans for several beach hotels with rooms ranging from US$100-200 – far less than that currently charged by the country’s budget resorts.

The development of the project will be overseen by the government’s marketing corporation, the MMPRC – who unable to respond to further queries at the time of press.

Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb has previously told Minivan News that, while his government would continue to support individual guest houses, there was a reluctance to promote them for fear of damaging the country’s brand as a luxury tourism destination.

“The thing is, from a marketing perspective, we have positioned the Maldives as a high-end destination,” explained Adeeb.

“A-category guests will continue coming for as long as we market the country as an A-category destination. Guests for B,C,D and E categories are something we automatically get.”

General Manager of Sales and Marketing at Triple A resorts Willem Fokkenrood, however, disagrees with this assessment, suggesting that this type of exclusive approach is outdated.

“Does guest house and B&Bs damage Hawaii’s image? No, it just puts more money into the pot.”

Fokkenrood also suggested that placement of the of the guest house concept on single islands would “defeat the purpose” of the model.

“People want to have guesthouses so the local people can reap the benefit from it. If you open a guest house island, what benefit are you talking about?” he asked.

“Because you get to stay with the local population, it’s a draw for a lot of people to say ‘I have stayed in the real Maldives’.”

Fokkenrood felt the key difference between the new concept and the traditional guest house model would be the addition of pork and alcohol products – illegal on the Maldives’ inhabited islands – to the mid-market sector.

“That would change the game, then it becomes a direct competitor to these established resorts,” he said.

Razee, however, felt that the policy may represent an attempt to reassure current industry leaders – described as oligarchs in a recent UNDP report – that the mid range market would progress in a “more controlled fashion”.

Minivan News was unable to obtain further comment from the Tourism Ministry on this subject.

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10 thoughts on “How will guest house islands benefit the community?”

  1. Developing guest houses on uninhabited islands defeats the whole purpose of the guest house concept introduced by the MDP Government. Wonder if they can even be called guest houses? Wouldn't they be resorts?

    How are services like electricity and water going to be provided on these islands? How can you have spin off economic activities when there is no population on these islands?

    Seems like a very dumb idea that will be shunned by current resort owners as well as the public alike as it is not going to benefit anyone.

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  2. This is very creative and fascinating idea. Creat an guesthouse island with many guest houses
    And without local residents even the local owners are not allow to be there, only employ foreign workers. Tourists can have lots of fun staying there. Just like the Sin city in South Africa. This will attract lots of tourists and not affected or bring bad influence to the local culture. What Maldives want is money..so just do it!

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  3. @Ali: "What Maldives want is money."

    But only the rich tycoons get to profit from it, eh? Us 'commoners' are still as poor as ever.

    ... so, why are we considered a 100% muslim country?

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  4. Did Nasheed had any policy on Guest House ? There was no policy ? Show me any where where that policy was written ?

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  5. The whole point is to keep locals from making money. If guest houses are developed on local islands, Maldivians are exposed to the outside world through tourism. Once people start earning money and seeing how foreigners live, they realize how bad they're getting screwed by the dictatorship.
    Keep the locals uneducated and brainwashed by religion. That's the Gayoom/PPM party platform. Well informed, middle class citizens don't tolerate dictatorships that rape and pillage their country's economy.
    This guest house island will be a massive joke. No money will trickle down to average Maldivians. But of course that's not the point anyway. And these islands won't be a threat to actual resorts. Maldivian managed guest house islands... crappy food, no booze, raw sewage pumped into the "swimming areas", piles of rubbish, and no customer service at all. Sounds like a dream holiday! Where can I book this magical experience?

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  6. @Sheep.
    what is average Maldivian ?

    When guest house in developed in an inhabited Island, Grabage, sewage and food become great and everything and all experience will be to the top level .

    When these guest houses are located in a designated Islands, then Maldivian managed guest houses becomes night mare and nothing will be right and Maldivian will not know how to manage them, no customer service, no good food, raw sewerage ?

    What the hell are you talking about here ?

    At least try not to get you exposed of making lies here .

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  7. average Maldivian= lives on a local island that is not Male' or Hulhumale
    or
    lives in Male' or Hulhumale but doesn't own a resort, work in politics, banking, finance, or any other "upper class" industry that steals money from the middle and lower class citizens of Maldives

    Maldivians don't know what customer service is and everyone reading this knows what I'm talking about except for you. Lies? I hope you're on the good stuff (brown sugar) that your master brings in to keep the zombies pacified because there's no other logical explanation for your ignorance.

    Maldivian customer service= give me your money and maybe I'll do my job or maybe I'll just shut my phone off and sit on my ass

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  8. @sheep.
    Then guest houses located on inhabited Islands are run by " Angels" right ?

    When same Maldivian run the Guesthosue on this designated Island, they don't know what the customer service is ?

    Cheap people like you who are blind followers of Nasheed will have always double standard .

    People like you who sees nothing wrong in Nasheed will not be able to digest this type of creative vertical tourism where " average Maldivian" are able to engage and where social impact will be minimize. This will jeopardize Nasheed long term strategies to ruin our social and economic harmony.

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  9. The guest houses on inhabited islands are mainly crap and certainly not run by "angels". Just normal every day locals who don't have a clue about customer service because their government doesn't spend any money on education or vocational training. That's how I know "guest house" islands will also be crap. Because Maldivians feel entitled to money without the work. I commend the locals who are trying their best (very few) to make their guest houses work for tourists but unless they receive hospitality/tourism training from foreigners, it's a lost cause. Eventually tourists will get tired of the sewage and rubbish and just go somewhere else for their holiday. I don't really think any of this has to do with Nasheed or GMR but thanks for hitting on your favorite topics for no apparent reason.

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