Chinese woman dies in resort swimming pool

A 50 year-old Chinese woman has died in a resort swimming pool, according to local media.

The women died on Saturday afternoon while in the deep end of the guest pool at the Robinson Club Maldives resort on Funamadua in Gaafu Alif Atoll, reported Sun Online.

Other guests in the area failed to notice the woman was in trouble until it was too late, according to Sun.


Dead body of Chinese tourist found near Taj Exotica Resort

Police have reported the discovery of  a dead body this morning near the Taj Exotica Resort.

According to police, the body was identified as the body of a female Chinese tourist staying at Taj Exotica named Chenzi Juvan, 44.

Police said the body was discovered by a Coco Palm Resort speedboat passing by Taj Exotica.

Police said the initial investigation suggested the woman had gone swimming alone.


Dead tourist found on Dhiffushi Island

Additional reporting by Leah Malone

The dead body of a foreign national has been found washed up on the west shore of Dhiffushi Island in Kaafu Atoll,  police have confirmed.

Police stated that the body of a caucasian male was found at about 1:23pm this afternoon (June 5), and a team of officers had been dispatched to the island.

A Police Spokesperson confirmed the incident had occurred and referred Minivan News to the Police Duty Officer hotline, which was switched off at time of press.

Dhiffushi Island Council President Hussein Rabeeu told Minivan News a group of islanders had noticed this afternoon that something was drifting towards the beach on the west side of the island.

Rabeeu said he was called by the islanders when the object came close enough to be identified as a dead body.

“I called the police who said they are on their way and asked us not to touch it,” he said.

“But a while later two American tourists from nearby Meerufenfushi Island Resort swam to the island and said the dead body was the third person who was with them.”

According to Rabeeu, the two tourists swam to the island from a nearby resort looking for their friend.

“They told us that they went out snorkeling and hit a storm, and lost one of their number. They confirmed it was the body of the person they were looking for,” he said.

“Now the management of the resort is also here and have confirmed the body is of a guest staying at the resort.”

Rabeeu said the dead man was wearing snorkelling gear when he was found. Local media published pictures of the body showing a man with dark hair and wearing blue swimming trunks.

Meeru Island Resort and Spa said it was unable to make a statement at time of press.

“Our general manager is very busy handling the case at the moment and is unable to take calls,” Meeru Island Resort and Spa Secretary Sherlyn Mauricio told Minivan News.

“We do not have the full details and are still dealing with the incident, so we are not allowed to say anything at this time.”

The US Embassy was unable to confirm the nationality of the deceased at time of press.

“Our consular staff are looking into the incident. Out of respect for the individual’s privacy we cannot share anything further at this time,” US Embassy official Chris Elms told Minivan News.


Honeymooning tourist suffers “extensive” leg injuries from boat propeller

A female German national honeymooning at the Reethi Beach Resort has suffered serious leg injuries after being hit by the propeller of a boat while diving, local media has reported.

The incident reportedly occurred around 11:00 am on Saturday (June 1).

The honeymooning tourist was transported to Male’ to receive medical treatment for her “extensive” leg injuries, according to local media.


Tourism Ministry to use commercials and street performances to attract Chinese tourists

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 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.”


February tourist arrivals to the Maldives increase by 25 percent on 2012

Tourist arrivals for February have increased by over 25 percent compared to the same month in 2012.

Figures from the Ministry of Tourism Arts and Culture reveal that an increase of 21,493 tourists visited the Maldives last month compared to February last year.

Tourism Minister Ahmed Adheeb told local media in February that he was confident the Maldives would reach one million tourist arrivals in 2012.

Despite the Ministry’s aim, January saw a 7.6 percent drop compared to the same month in 2012 – the first time the Maldives had seen a decrease in January arrivals in three years.

The Asian market – which holds a 43.7 percent share of the overall tourist market – increased by 106.8 percent in February compared to the same month last year.

China, which has the largest share of the market for a single country, saw an increase from just 12,237 tourist arrivals in February 2012 to a total of 33,592 in 2013.

The 174.5 percent increase from Chinese tourists could be attributed to Chinese New Year, which was held in February this year as opposed to January in 2012.

Despite the continuing rise in the Asian market, Europe – which holds the largest share of the tourism market at 51.6 percent – fell by 6.2 percent in February 2013.

Arrivals from the United Kingdom also continued to fall last month from 9,006 in February 2012 to 7,745 in 2013 – a 14 percent decrease.

Tourists from Italy, which has the second largest share of the European market after the UK at 7.5 percent, fell by 12 percent in February compared to the same month in 2012.

Whilst arrivals from southern, western and northern Europe continued to fall, the eastern and central European market grew by 22.9 percent from 9,376 in 2012 to 11,519 in 2013.

Political turmoil

Despite the sharp rise in tourist arrivals last month, February 2012 saw unusually low tourist arrivals following the political instability that took place on February 7, 2012, when former President Mohamed Nasheed was removed from power.

Following widespread media coverage of the country’s political unrest, Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) released a statement claiming that resorts had registered 500 cancellations in the first week following the change of government.

One Shanghai-based travel agent, Sun Yi, told Minivan News she was faced with many cancellations just two days after the events of February 7.

”It has seriously affected our business. Many guests cancelled the Maldivian holiday package which used to be very popular,” she explained, adding that her company had suspended plans to hold a commercial event at a Maldives resort this spring.

“Quite a lot of Chinese customers are very concerned of this situation. Some of them are hesitant to make reservations now,” said Emy Zheng, a Chinese national working at Villuxa Holidays.

‘Cup noodle’ scandal

Meanwhile, calls for a tourism boycott to the Maldives exploded across Chinese social media networks earlier this month, after allegations of discrimination against guests from China at one resort became widely circulated.

On March 1, 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 making instant noodles in their rooms and thereby forcing them into the resort’s restaurants.

By Sunday, the employees’ post had been forward over 91,000 times across the Chinese blogosphere, according to one report from the International Herald Tribune, and sparked calls for a Chinese tourism boycott of the Maldives in Chinese media.

One Bejing-based travel agent specialising in the Maldives told the South China Morning Post that many Chinese tourists had started cancelling their plans to visit the country.

Minister of Tourism Ahmed Adheeb said no formal complaints had been received by Maldivian authorities over alleged discrimination at the country’s resorts.

However, Adheeb asked that in future, any tourists who had such complaints about their treatment file such concerns with the tourism ministry and other relevant authorities rather than through the press and social media.


Dead body found between Villimale’ and Gulhi Falhu

A dead body has been found in the sea between Villimale’ and Gulhi Falhu today (February 13), local media has reported.

Authorities are currently searching for a German tourist who went missing on Sunday after jumping into the sea from an anchored yacht near Male’.

According to local media, police confirmed a body had been found in the sea but refused to disclose any further details.

Local newspaper Haveeru reported that the missing man jumped from the yacht MY Enok to conduct some repair work.


German tourist drowns while snorkelling

Haveeru have reported the drowning of a German tourist in Enboodhoo Village Resort in Kaafu Atoll.

Police said that the man died while snorkelling on Wednesday morning. His body was brought to Male’ at around 11.45am.

Police said the man was aged 63 and had been holidaying with his wife. Investigations are ongoing.


Comment: “We might be tourists but we are not blind or deaf”

Open letter to the Honorable Dhivehi people.

Dear all,

This letter is written with plenty of love and respect for you, your culture and your country. I am writing on behalf of a group of university professors that have visited many times your country, a group of people from the international university community that feels very sad for what is happening in Maldives and have their heart shred into pieces.

It is terrible for us to see what is happening to such nice and friendly country. Brothers against brothers, brothers killing brothers. We use to say that you where very different from Sri Lanka as every time we went to Dhivehi land, those 190 islands surrounded by a blue sea, we traveled also to old Ceylon, always in war, always in troubles, the population always in fear.

The Maldives was different, although we knew that human rights were not respected, nor did free expression exist. We knew that a dictator was controlling the country, we knew that poverty was present, we knew that the country did not have a proper hospital and no university. For us this was very strange — we knew that people were in prison, we knew of families losing their land for not being princes of the regime.

We might be tourists but we are not blind nor deaf.

We might stay in upscale resorts but we have a heart and we are not stupid. We made plenty of friends, people that came to visits us in Europe and others that could not afford to travel, but showed interest and sympathy to us every time we surfed the Maldivian blue waters. Some of these people are apparently now in jail.

What is happening? The news in Europe says you have dismissed your elected President and a new one is in power since a few days ago.

This is not possible as a new President cannot appoint him or herself and needs to be elected. I don’t think you had the time for that.

We all fear that you are back to dictatorship, black into the grey dark political clouds of the last 30 years. We are not even sure that this open letter to all Maldivian will be published, but we want to show that we are with you in this difficult moment.

Whoever will be in power, cannot be called President as he or she has not been elected.

It seems like your path to democracy has suffered a twist. Often it is like that in countries without a culture of respect for human life. The photos we get here in Europe makes us think about old times back here. If that is the case it is very sad.

We don’t know exactly what your situation is as the mails we get are very confusing, but it seems like plenty of blood has been shed lately. From Europe, at least from the university community, we want to say to all that fighting for democracy is worth it. Some of you may not understand it fully, but indeed democracy is the only way to go these days. Some of your Muslim brothers in north Africa know it very well.

May all the troubles end soon and may your country regain the wisdom that will allow you to continue to develop. No more blood should be spilt. No more dictatorship should take place.

Irwin Glass is a teacher at the European University in Barcelona.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]