Foreseen: The Demise of the Maldives Tourism Industry

20 Mar

Today I sat at a table in a coffee shop with a man who was delighted with the success of their strike to “make things right” on a tourist resort in Maldives. Hce was delighted that they had won. He was delighted that the “culprit” lost and could not do a thing because of rights enshrined in the August Constitution of the Maldives and the new Labor Law.

After he left, I wondered to myself – what have we become? I have always believed that Allah has created enough of everything in such abundance that the wealth and the welfare of another cannot take away what is rightfully mine. That the other need not lose for me to win. Yet, there is so many amongst us who seem to believe that our happiness can only come from someone else’s misery, that our success can only be if others are to lose.

What is going on in the tourism industry today is to me a sign of this mentality that seem to have gripped our nation – which have been hailed as Paradise on Earth. The chaos and the fight to annihilate the other has come about for compelling reasons that would be spelled out in detail by each party to impress their case.

It was in July 2008 that the Maldives Association of the Tourism Industry (MATI) warned of a looming tourism decline.

The first high profile strike organized by TEAM was settled after intervention by the President’s Office. Since then we have seen strikes that have rocked the industry which is in a very fragile state. Maryam Omidi’s report on Minivan News says, there has been about ten strikes in the recent months according to Tourism Employee’s Association President Ahmed Easa. Some blame the Labor Law while others blame the attitude and treatment of local employees by their five-star rich employers.

Since then, the President has flown to Italy to woo tourists, and the Economic Development Minister has made an offical visit to Italy “create a suitable environment for investment.” He had “expessed surprise” [that] “discussions to seek investment had not occured in the past.” The Tourism Minister has just left for the Moscow International Tourism and Travel Fair (MITT) 2009. The government is “going all out” to attract tourists and to woo investors.

There seems to be an absence of a commitment or a will by the government, MATI or TEAM to put things right – to work out a timeline for creating the conditions required to enable the Labor Law through short-term, medium-term and long-term strategies that would sustain the “bread-basket” of the nation. When are we going to act as a nation – not as individuals looking for fame, not as lobbyists for self-interest groups, not as political parties; who wish to “win” by the “sheer loss” of those who are against them; so that we may survive the world economic crisis?

This arrogance and attitude of mind (for “them” to lose so that we can “win” in absolute terms)can only scare the employers (of local employees) and create a lack of investor confidence in Maldives investment climate. How on earth would tourists come to holiday in a “dead” paradise that is socially irresponsible as a corporate citizen, recklessness in its psyche, and can boast only of mayhem on its streets? How hospitable can we be?

President Nasheed (Anni) embarked on his Presidency on a promising note, with a commitment to fulfill his party’s election promises. His biggest challenge seems to be to provide sound economic, political and fiscal conditions that would enable the realization of those dreams and his party manifesto on which he believes he was elected to Office.

How important is it for “us” to win and them to “lose”? Are we prepared to sacrifice this nation for us to win!


Posted by on March 20, 2009 in Leadership, My Concerns, Nation Building


2 responses to “Foreseen: The Demise of the Maldives Tourism Industry

  1. Shiham

    March 20, 2009 at 10:24 am

    It is already in total chaos isn’t it!Our mindset is to follow whatever seems to be overly defensive and intolerent! bigots! No patriotism at all!But i guess, there have a history of unfair treatments done to Maldivians in our resorts. Im not saying Bados. there are many other resorts. partly because, maldivians, like many other asian workers (such as bangladesh, srilankan, nepal etc) accepted the way as it is and other reason, we were not qualified. Even today, we see many staff, who do not have any educational or vocational back ground, who are not serious regarding the career. And these are the lot who petty strike i guess. the irresponsible and misguided! we need to conduct more effective trainings and vocational programms and make them feel they are directly involved in the business and give them some incentive one way or the other! State need to involve in the Human resources of this country, especially in tourism sect..

  2. Hassan

    March 20, 2009 at 9:09 am

    Dear Shihab,TEAM now seems to be politically motivated now. I hear they are backing Hassan Saeed and are to create chaos in the country to force a mid-term election. It is sad. I was intially happy and proud that TEAM came into exeistence. But what they are encouraging is not only the demise of our tourismindustry but also the country along with it.Take the Bandos strike for example. The staff there should be embarassed. They took advantage of the best employer in the country. It was crazy to sit and see the event unfold. I mean to demand termination of a staff because she was influencing management decisions. I mean c’mon. That is her job in her position. What else does onbe expect her to do. The funny thing is when I went through the whole episode reported in the media, I could not find a single reason by the staff demanding her termination. I mean you have a right to strike but on substantial ground. And that should not be the first option. You go on strike after you talk with the owners and if the dispute is not settled. And you just can’t deman a staff’s resignation. You can demand for what has been done incorrectly pr unfairly to you. In a private organization the owner has a right to jeep employed whoever he likes. Yes, it might be different when firing someone. Now tell me what happened to the rights of the Bandos lawyer. Can somebody explain.I think Deen should take the people responsible for this to the court for his loss in income. Perhaps it is time someone did something to make these people realize that there are two sides to everything.The majority might not be right always. The beauty of a democracy is the protection f the minority.Dear Shiahab. I am glad that you have brought out this issue here. Someone needs to do something before this country goes in to total chaos

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