Police have seized 147 bottles of alcohol and 498 cans of beer stored in a safari boat docked at Hulhumale’, and arrested two persons in connection with the case.
Police said the alcohol found on the safari boat was not stored in compliance with regulations made to have alcohol aboard safari boats for tourism purposes.
According to police, a 44 year-old Maldivian and a 39 year-old Bangladeshi man were arrested in connection with the case.
Police said the 44 year-old Maldivian was arrested yesterday morning (April 22) while he was near the Maya Clinic in Maafannu ward, following reports police received that he was trafficking alcohol.
Three bottles of alcohol were discovered inside a bag he was carrying when police stopped and searched him, police said.
Police said that following further information police received from the Maldivian man, the Bangladeshi man was arrested in a special operation police conducted by Drug Enforcement Department.
Police investigation into the case continues.
A special harbour is to be constructed in order to serve safari vessels catering for tourists, the Tourism Ministry has announced.
Deputy Minister for Tourism Mohamed Maleeh Jamal told local media that the harbour will be constructed along with the second phase of the Hulhumale’ development project and that work will begin soon.
“Safaris are in need of a good harbour. So far we have not been able to facilitate this. It is included in the fourth master plan, and during our various meetings, the idea is to build a harbour especially for safaris,” Maleeh was quoted as saying in local media.
The deputy minister did not specify the size or the facilities the harbour would provide, local media reported.
Police conducted raids on five safari boats docked in waters surrounding the island of Hulhumale’ last night (December 31) after receiving information that the vessels had failed to comply with local regulations on keeping and trading alcohol.
The Maldives Police Service has said in a statement that 245 bottles of alcohol found on the five boats were confiscated during last night’s operation over concerns they were not being kept in compliance with national regulations.
Speaking to Minivan News today, Police Spokesperson Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef said that the regulations and laws outlining the trade and possession of alcohol on tourist resorts and safari boats were not found to have been met in some of the cases on the boats inspected by officers.
”Regulations have been made to determine the procedures of how alcohol should be stored and traded for tourism purposes in order to control the distribution for locals,” Haneef said. ”These bottles were not stored in compliance with the regulations.”
The case of the alcohol found aboard the boats was now being investigated by the Police Drug Enforcement Department.
No arrests were made during the operation.
On August 31 last year, officers conducted a similar operation, seizing 106 bottles and 40 cans of beer from a safari boat docked at Hulhumale’.
Police at the time stated that the safari boat that was the focus of the operation had failed to correctly follow procedures allowing vessels to store and trade alcohol to foreign guests.
The tourism industry has recorded a 10 percent increase in bed nights for the first three months of 2011 compared with 2010, a total of 1,852,564.
However while the majority of nights were spent at resort properties – 1,724,799 – this represented only a seven percent increase on 2010. In comparison, nights at hotels increased 25.5 percent (to 60,784) and safari vessels by 33.9 percent.
Guest houses remained a small segment of the tourism market with 7855 nights, although this represented a 25.5 percent increase on the same period last year. Guest houses continued to record very low occupancy rates of around 17 percent.
Occupancy rates for resorts increased three and a half percent on 2010 to 92.8 percent from January to March 2011, and were exceptionally strong in February – only two percent of the country’s resort rooms were empty during this month. Hotel occupancy increase 6.5 percent on last year.
Overall, occupancy rates across the tourism industry varied only marginally on 2010, dropping 0.1 percent.
Average duration of stay for the first three months of 2011 also showed little variation on the same period last year, continuing a slight downward trend of 0.1 percent to 7.5 days per visitor.