After thousands of protesters gathered last Friday and demanded the government “close the spas and massage parlors and such places where prostitution is conducted”, the Tourism Ministry has today published a circular asking all the resorts to shut down their spas and massage parlors.
Press Secretary for the President Mohamed Zuhair today confirmed to Minivan News that the Tourism Ministry had issued the circular.
The circular informs that the government has decided to shut down all the spas and massage parlors in accordance with demands made by the general public during last Friday’s protest to “defend Islam.”
Speaking at a press conference held yesterday, Zuhair said the protesters did not specify where exactly the prostitution was conducted but mentioned that prostitution was conducted inside spas and massage parlors.
He said the government does not know how to differentiate between the spas and massage parlors that are complicit with prostitution and those which are not.
Therefore, Zuhair said the government has decided to shut down all such locales because Maldivians, including high-profile individuals, have been visiting tourist resorts and having spa treatments.
He said the government does not want those high-profile individuals’ good names being damaged by visiting places accused of such crimes.
Zuhair added that some of the individuals making these demands last Friday also conduct business in the tourism industry. Therefore, the government believes that, given their insider understanding of the resort and spa industry, their accusations are well-founded and there is not much to investigate.
This week, five spas run in five resorts owned by opposition Jumhoory Party (JP) Leader ‘Burma’ Gasim Ibrahim were asked by the Tourism Ministry to shut down operations over similar allegations.
The company subsequently sued the government. Meanwhile, the Civil Court issued a warrant permitting those spas to continue operations until the suit has reached a verdict.
Tourism Minister Dr Maryam Zulfa was unavailable for a comment.