Evacuation of Israelis demonstrates radical’s threat to guesthouse tourism

On July 28, an Israeli surfer on Thulusdhoo Island vandalised a protest placard featuring a swastika alongside an Israeli flag.

Within hours, an estimated 30 protesters from Malé travelled to the island to call for the expulsion of all Israeli tourists. The new arrivals were temporarily detained while the police evacuated 30 Israelis along with 4 tourists of other nationalities.

The incident has left several guest houses on Thulusdhoo empty and caused the cancellation of bookings, while nearby resorts have called off excursions.

Thulusdhoo, only 40 minutes away from Malé, is home to one of the country’s top surf breaks and – although Israeli arrivals amount to a small fraction (3,253) of the 1 million-plus tourist arrivals in Maldives each year –  Thulusdhoo’s nine guest houses rely heavily on Israeli surf tourism.

“Business will be down for the next three months. If incidents like this occur in the future, guest house tourism will suffer a lot of damage,” said Mohamed Hashim, who runs Batuta Maldives Surf View on Thulusdhoo.

Anti Israeli sentiment has been growing in the Maldives since the onset of the Israeli offensive in Gaza. The Maldives has announced plans to boycott Israeli imports, thousands have marched in solidarity with Palestine, and over MVR5 million has been donated to a humanitarian fund for Gaza.

Maldives luxury resorts – with one hotel on one island – are shielded from the local citizenry and society but they have offered islanders little benefit from its multi-billion dollar profits. Local tourism, on the other hand – while it offers hope of greater wealth distribution – is particularly vulnerable to unrest within the community.

Vigilante action of the sort seen on Thulusdhoo could pose serious risks for this emerging sector.

Real danger?

Interviews with protesters reveal that they had demanded police escort guests off the island through the protesting crowd in order to show tourists “they cannot provoke us”.

One man claimed the Israeli tourists were soldiers and described their actions as condescending. He further claimed the tourists had told locals, “We are Israelis. You cannot do anything to us.”

Condemning the police’s detention of the protesters while guests were evacuated, he said the police had treated the locals “worse than the Jews.” Israeli tourists must face the protesting locals, he argued, claiming even US President Barack Obama had gone to places where shoes had been thrown at him.

“This is a slap to Maldivian Muslim faces. After harming Muslims in that country, they come here, to a Muslim country, stay in a Muslim community and slap us in the face.”

“They have given Maldivians a warning. Just as they are killing children there, tomorrow they will kill your children,” he continued.

Another man said, “They cannot come to the Maldives on that passport. This is a 100 percent Muslim nation. Jew, Christian dogs cannot come into this country.”

No confrontation

Thulusdhoo Island Council President Ahmed Anees has denied the claim of confrontations between protesters and guests, saying that the community had in fact resolved the issue before those journeying from Malé arrived.

Batuta manager Hashim said that, though he did not believe that any of the protesters would have physically harmed guests, guest house owners could not agree to demands for guests to be escorted through the irate crowd.

“Escorting guests off through a crowd opens up opportunity for danger, for example someone in the crowd throwing a stone. We didn’t allow them the opportunity,” he said.

Rumors on social media and irresponsible media coverage had caused the situation to escalate, he said.

“Just as insults to our Prophet Mohamed riles us up, the swastika riles them up. It represents the Holocaust in which millions of Jews died. The guest shouldn’t have vandalised the placard. I do not support their actions. The boards were taken down. The issue was resolved,” he continued.

Protesters have gone on to hold a series of nightly demonstrations in Malé, calling for a ban on tourists from Israel. The Israeli and American flags were burned in front on Relax Inn and Mookai Hotel in Malé on Thursday.

Hashim said he did not see how banning Israeli tourists could have an economic impact on Israel.

“A ban on imports from Israel can cause an economic impact, but banning Israeli tourism is not that important. It affects our economy, not theirs,” he said.

Evacuation “heartbreaking”

Israeli citizen and tour operator Tom Niv – present on Thulusdhoo during the incident – described the evacuation as “heartbreaking.”

“I am fully against ugly behavior. When ugly behavior occurs, whether it’s from Israelis or locals, the police should get involved. As a travel agent, I am not accepting any kind of unwelcome behavior. We are guests in this country and we should respect rules.”

Thulusdhoo is “no longer safe for us,” Niv continued. “That a few extremists can impact a whole nation is crazy.”

Both Niv and Hashim maintained that Thulusdhoo was tourist friendly up until the evacuation.

“The guests mixed with the locals, frequented local businesses such as souvenir shops and went fishing on local boats,” Hashim said.

“There was a really good vibe, even clients posted on social media, look these are Muslims, we are Jews, see how good friends we are and see how much fun we have together,” Niv said.

“Almost everyone who came to Thulusdhoo got really connected with the locals. They weren’t like in resorts, like servants. It was not about money or tips. They really became good friends.”

Anees said residents continue to welcome tourists of any nationality, though he admitted he was now apprehensive of having Israeli tourists on Thulusdhoo.


Hashim fears businesses might now be wary of investing in Thulusdhoo in the future.

“Any act that may harm tourism worries us. Tourism is a very vulnerable industry. Burning flags in front of hotels in Malé and calling for tourism bans will scare off tourists,” he added.

Deputy Minister of Tourism Hussein Lirar said the safety of tourists is the government’s first priority, and that it is holding discussions on preventing similar incidents in the future.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Home Affairs are in the process of establishing Tourist Police to deal specifically with tourist affairs.

“This is quite important as the number of tourists coming to Malé is also increasing,” he said.

For Niv, the evacuation will have far-reaching consequences for guest house tourism in the Maldives.

“Israelis are not the only one who went away, Australians, French – not too many – but they will tell their friends that local islands are not safe anymore.”

“Now it is against Israel. But tomorrow it could be against Europeans or against Americans. It shows what can happen in certain conditions. This will definitely damage tourism in local islands and tourism in general,” said Niv.

Demands for a ban on tourists from any country should be directed at the government, while disagreements with any state’s actions ought not to translate into direct threats against tourists.

The incidents on Thulusdhoo reveal the risks radicals could have on guest house tourism. Local disputes over the actions of an Israeli – or a tourist of any nationality – should be taken up with police and local government.

Failure to do so could cause irreparable harm to the guest house sector.


20 thoughts on “Evacuation of Israelis demonstrates radical’s threat to guesthouse tourism”

  1. I agree with protestor quote. Ban all Christian dogs and US dollars too. Thats dirty infidel money anyway. Maldives should not allow Christians tourists or workers. Koran says money from sale of alcohol is haram. Practice what you preach or stay home with your cousin wife and shut up.

  2. Foolish and stupid tourists crying over split milk not being able to stay in maldives, guests are you guys nuts there are many places to visit in Asia where you guys will not be harassed by psychos brainwashed,maniacal mobs who loose their reasoning to some clerics preaching hate sermons,guys Thailand,srilanka,andamans ,Australia are better options

  3. Maybe these apologists need to visit France and Australia on a holiday and see how they are treated. Off colour remarks, passive aggressiveness to explicit racism...

  4. Morons…. It was not your police’s affection to Yahoodhies. They hate them as much as you hate them. At least some body had some sense in the government and instructed to give security to Israeli citizens and you must be happy that the Israeli were not brutalized by some mad people. If that happened, your wish of becoming an Arab country would have become a reality. No one can stop Israeli air force to put some smart bombs on your bearded head because you have legally invited them with their usual gift to Arabs if their citizens were brutalized under the nose your government. .

  5. Religions can make people such crazy proves from these zealots, why these people can go so made about some such funny things. It was just a banner these Israeli Tourists vandalized; instead of going crazy you could have put more banners and booed at those Tourists. It seems too much testosterone in these fishermen’s. A new research says the more you civilize the less testosterone you have.

  6. interesting video of Israel is a pawn of local politics
    Hope some one puts subtitles to the video, which is hilarious.

    The last message (warning to Islamic Minister Shaheem) sums up what it is. A fake domestic drama..

  7. Congratulations to the bearded bozos for further cementing the extremist Israeli politicians' rhetoric that 'all muslims are out to get them just because they're jews'.

    Next time they win an election, Netanyahu should make a speech thanking the dumbos for helping polarize opinion in his favor.

  8. Tom Niv has the right attitude. However, innocent people always suffer as a result of government actions, whether it is their own government or that of another nation. Fact of life I am afraid.

  9. This is great news for the resort owners in India.
    All western tourists, including Israelis, are welcome to rebook their vacations in the civilised, peaceful and secular resorts of Goa, Kerala and Rajasthan. You will get bacon and sausages for breakfast, a variety of locally made wines, beers and spirits and as much culture as you can handle.....all unattainable in the Maldives.....with the exception of drugs. More importantly, you won't get uneducated and unwashed locals threatening you with violence.
    Israelis is particular should AVOID Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Iran, Afghanistan, Yemen and Jordan and everyone, including other Muslims, should avoid Pakistan where NOBODY is safe.

  10. @Derek Postance

    So you're rubberstamping the atrocities carried out against Palestinians as a 'fact of life', eh?

  11. surfing is about sharing, respect, enjoy.
    i'm an israeli surfer, visited 5 times the maldives for surfing, exellent vibe and relationships with locals, not only for buisnies.
    the radical islam is the opposit!!!
    i hope the maldives stay an islamic country and not a radical islam country.

    the idiot privocator who placed the placard won! i'm sure he didn't know the meaning, he is a cowerd brain washed teenager, but this time he won, this is a fact.
    the one who lost is not the israeli tourist! next time we go surf sri lanca or india or philipines, the same money.
    the one who lost is the maldives.

    hope the maldives goverment will find the way to "turn back", fix the mistake, don't let the radicals win! because if they get strong, it will be the same like gaza under the hamas "ruling"... is this what you want?

  12. @MissIndia NewDelhi,

    You seem to forget to mention India's gang rape culture on Australian, European ..& Western tourists.

    Didn't your country come up top on this incident, where government ministers and police collude together in this hennes crime!?

    So please think before you speak!

  13. @ All

    Many British and other Western tourists go abroad get drunk, become violent and get thrown out on a regular basis around the world in resorts. No one makes a big deal, it's just a fact of life.

    Few Israeli get escorted due to minor incidents and the whole world has to sit up, listen and pay attention otherwise there will be serious consequences!

    Please live in the real world, take it on your chin, don't be fanatical and turn it into a religious political Regev style PR stunt!

    Israeli's are not any superior human being, although they like to think they are. Just forget it and move, please stop not picking and turning every thing into a world class order!

  14. What is happening in Gaza is unpresidented, total massacre and destruction of civilian infrastructure's; roads, only electrical power station, homes, schools, factories, offices... And hospitals by Israel a NATO member country with modern Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and help and funding from USA while occupying and grabbing land for 45+ years, regular offensive wars and complete blockade which is slowly choking a nations population to death.

    It's a war crime at an unparreled level!

    Let's not try to pretend to explain or defend it!

    The solution is simple, give back the land, take away the illegal settlements, lift the blockade and let the country build it's self up and stand on their own two feet. The people will then deal with extrimism once there is peace and they have freedom to eat, move and live. Not while they are impresioned in their own country and being bombed!

  15. blacknight, when was the last time you visited israel to see what is really going on? what do you know about hamas and the palestinian intentions for peace? you are just another brainwashed jerk who sits at home and believes the anti-israeli media. stop watching al jazeera and pick up some history books.

  16. for the record, i stayed as a guest at batuta and enjoyed myself. i've been in touch with the local guys i surfed with and befriended while i was there. they are all looking forward to their israeli friends returning and we are looking forward to seeing them.

  17. Maldives has always been a welcoming country regardless if the foreigner is a muslim or non-muslim, we are a liberal nation, but when it comes to the ruthless actions of the israelis its better Maldives cut off complete relations with israel and that includes blocking the entry off a israeli passport holder to this country

  18. Maldives does not need tourists from the zionist entity, its master USA or its helpers like China, India, Japan and Euro.

  19. Minivan why you allow comments of stupidity of kashim to stick,kashim why bother of selective tourism ban it completely, better earn your bread and butter of islamic people rather than infidel,hate filled retard

  20. @cabs. Typical, this is all you foolish zionist lovers have is insults. Go move to Israel or US.


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