Maldives aims to end separation of islanders and tourists

Wednesday, 1 April 2009 08:18

The Maldives has initiated a new tourism policy aimed at increasing contact between visitors and inhabitants of the island chain in the Indian Ocean, the country's tourism minister said. Speaking recently to the German weekly newspaper, Die Zeit, the minister, Ahmed Ali Sawad, said there would no longer be a "parallel world" of resort islands kept separate from the islands inhabited by Maldivians.

"We are pleased about every guest who seeks the seclusion of a resort island," Sawad remarked, adding, "But we also want to invite tourists to visit our communities."Sawad said a first step would be a ferry network linking the some 300 inhabited islands, enabling tourists to "island-hop" and boosting exchanges among the islanders themselves. "Up to now in the Maldives, we have constantly built for tourism and benefited ourselves only secondarily.

Now it's going to be the other way around," Sawad said. He noted that the creation of luxury resorts in the Maldives had become the norm, whereas mid-priced hotels "have almost disappeared completely over the years."

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