The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture has revealed new plans to promote the Maldives to Chinese tourists through commercials showcasing the country’s culture.
The announcement follows a succession of international campaigns that threaten to damage the reputation of the Maldives’ tourism industry, both in China and traditional European markets.
Earlier in March, calls for a tourism boycott of the Maldives exploded across Chinese social media networks after allegations of discrimination against Chinese guests became widely circulated.
The tourism industry suffered another potential blow last week, when the online petition website Avaaz.org received over one million signatures in protest of the sentencing of a 15 year-old rape victim to 100 lashes for the offence of fornication.
In response to the negative press, Deputy Tourism Minister Mohamed Maleeh Jamaal told local media on Tuesday (March 26), that the ministry is currently preparing a number of activities to promote the country to the Chinese market.
According to the Maleeh, the ministry is preparing two commercial segments to be aired on Chinese national broadcaster, CCTV.
“The programs will show Maldives tourism, culture, traditional talents such as boat construction, and other themes that display the beauty of Maldivian culture and so on, Maldives resorts and their natural beauty, underwater footage, it’ll be excellent for the channel,” Maleeh was quoted as saying in SunOnline.
In addition to the commercials, the deputy tourism minister revealed that plans are currently underway to stage street performances in four different cities in China.
Maleeh claimed that the programs will work to the country’s advantage and will significantly promote Maldives tourism in China.
“Street performances are to be played in four different cities, and we will be meeting with at least 2000 agents, and even if we can attract about 20 news reporters from each city, it is large number, it will have a large effect on tourism,” Maleeh was quoted as saying.
According to Maleeh, the ministry has initiated a number of new efforts in order counter the widespread negative publicity circulating against tourism in the Maldives.
Tourism Minister Ahmed Adheeb and Deputy Tourism Minister Mohamed Maleeh Jamaal were not responding to calls from Minivan News at time of press.
Campaigns will damage both tourism and economy: Maleeh
On Sunday (March 24), Maleeh told local media that recent campaigns calling for tourists to boycott the Maldives would damage both tourism and the country as a whole.
Maleeh claimed the petition launched by Avaaz calling for the Maldives government to end the practice of flogging was really an attempt by the opposition to damage the country’s economy for political gain.
The petition, which has been signed by more than 1.2 million people, was launched after the Juvenile Court sentenced a 15 year-old rape victim to 100 lashes for a separate crime of fornication.
“When they started the campaign, they were clearly aware of the president’s stand, as well the attorney general’s stand on the matter,” Maleeh said, according to SunOnline.
“Looking back, a 14 year-old was given the same sentence during former President Nasheed’s presidency and nobody seemed to have talked about that. This whole deed is an attempt to defame the country’s tourism industry and [damage the] economy,” he said.
Cup noodle discrimination
Earlier this month, dismissed Chinese employees of the Beach House Iruveli resort – formerly Waldorf Astoria – posted allegations on the Chinese forum Tianya that guests from the country were receiving inferior treatment to Europeans, despite paying the same prices.
The staff alleged that this discrimination extended to removing kettles from the rooms of Chinese guests, to prevent them from making instant noodles in their rooms and thereby forcing them into the resort’s restaurants.
The resort has since denied the claims, stating that it had “removed damaged kettles from rooms as part of routine maintenance due to the fact that these kettles were damaged by guests by cooking food.”