Coastguard divers are trying to locate a Chinese tourist reported missing from the Bandos Island Resort and Spa property since Thursday (December 6).
Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) Spokesperson Colonel Abdul Raheem said that a diving team was conducting further searches of the area surrounding the resort to try and locate the tourist, identified as a female Chinese national who had been staying at the resort.
When contacted by Minivan News today, a spokesperson for Bandos Island Resort and Spa said it would not be making any comments on the matter at present, asking to be contacted in 24 hours time.
“It is not possible for us to comment today, our manager is not on duty,” said a representative for the property’s marketing department said.
Police Spokesperson Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef was not responding to calls from Minivan News at the time of press.
Details of the search operation were announced after a male tourist from Finland was killed last Sunday (December 2) when an express speedboat service to the island of Hulhumale’ collided with another vessel belonging to the Bandos Island Resort and Spa. Nine local people were also injured in the collision.
The Honorary Consul of Finland in the Maldives confirmed this week that it was assisting the resort property in working to arrange repatriation of the tourist, while investigations by police and transport authorities continue into the matter.
Following the collision on Sunday, a spokesperson for the Maldives Transport and Contracting Company (MTCC) said it had temporarily suspended its express speedboat service between Hulhumale’ and Male’ while it reviewed guest safety procedures.
“We believe we need to do some work on safety,” a company spokesperson told Minivan News. “We will be working with transport authorities, the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) and the police on the matter and will resume the services after that.” Dhoni services will continue to run between Male’ and Hulhumale’ as normal, the MTCC added yesterday.
Over the last 12 months, tourist deaths – usually while snorkelling – have been disproportionately higher among Chinese tourists, which now account for a majority of Maldives tourist arrivals even compared to traditional European markets.
Mohamed Ibrahim ‘Sim’ from the Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) previously told Minivan News that Chinese guests in particular needed to be made more aware of the dangers of snorkelling in the Maldives, “because it is a totally different environment than what they are used to.”
Back in October, police said that a 26 year-old male from China staying at Alif Dhaal Atoll Vakafaru resort was suspected to have died in a snorkelling accident at the property.
Meanwhile in January, two Chinese nationals on vacation at separate island resorts in the Maldives were found dead within 48 hours of each other. Authorities said they suspected both incidents were the result of snorkelling accidents.