Mayday at Maldives, the drudgery continues…

Isn’t it ironic that most resorts in Maldives still do not recognize May 1 as a public holiday despite Mayday being officially declared a public holiday in 2011 by then president Nasheed? It shall be more so, considering the fact that this affects tourism workers who are by far the most productive workers and the most deserving of a Mayday break from workplace. However stubbornness have it, that its always the unproductive, demoralized, polarized civil workers who gets all the benefits while the resort workers toil hard, unloved and uncared for. This is not to belittle the civil workers,  but to emphasize a massive wrong doing done to resort workers which nobody seems to notice. On the issue of Mayday, it is indeed past time that we seem to come to a conclusion about which is a public holiday, which is a govt. holiday, a bank holiday, or a religious holiday or whatever. Currently the resort HR’s are still sticking to an outdated portion of the hard-fought-and-almost-lost-cause-called-labour-rights-bill which has a section for “miscellaneous matters” where it  says:

“public holiday” shall mean Fridays, Day of Commemoration of the Birth of Prophet Mohamed, Day of Commemoration of the Maldives converting to Islam, Independence Day, National Day, First Day of Ramazan, Day of Eid‐ul‐Fitr, Victory Day, Republic Day, Hajj Day and Day of Eid‐ul‐Ad’ha;”

Links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Workers’_Day http://minivannews.com/news-in-brief/may-1-designated-a-public-holiday-to-mark-labour-day-19395

 http://www.miadhu.com/2011/04/local-news/labour-day-may-1-to-be-public-holiday-in-the-maldives/

 http://www.presidencymaldives.gov.mv/Index.aspx?lid=11&dcid=7288

 http://www.sun.mv/17869

 DO

Striking thoughts… (Add yours below)

A strike in its abstract sense is an amazing social organism. It has its own heart and beat, and most likely will be  unpredictable. Nor will its goals be clear or targets definite.

It could be like fire,

mist or snow

or anything for that matter

(forgive the poetic part)

but its hard to define. :)

At least that’s the sort of past 45 or so strikes that has happened in various resorts in the country to various degrees. But of course there are rules to follow. TEAM (tourism employees association of Maldives) is forever at pains to stress this point that employees shall always play by the rules. But who is TEAM when the employees rights are in jeopardy? Its like the perpetual battle between the parents and the children. The children puts on tantrums, win or loose their cause and ultimately falls to the protective umbrella of family. Likewise, even though most resort employees are not paying members of TEAM, they are always ready to help when an employee is thrown out of a resort for a strike. Anyways…

Incomplete info, or superiors deliberately raising workers expectations such as that of a yearly bonus or the next month’s service charge to motivate the team for a full season etc, are all fine ingredients for a destructive strike. The potent wisdom in this situation is to deliver as much was promised. The language barrier is also another factor which contributes a lot to misunderstandings which develops in to full scale riots.

The perception that others are crooks (especially the accountants) have connotation with the ghastly belief that ghosts predominantly live in dirty places such as cesspool etc! But objectively thinking, one can can arrive at the absurdity as to why ghosts shall live in such places when we loath such places. So it could be our conscience or the inverse of that function that makes us believe that only we are clean and others are dirty. This is not about exonerating the class of people called accountants but it won’t harm to be a little generous as to believe that people can actually be honest.

And then there are the leaders. Some lead not by knowing they are leaders but it takes others to realize who is leading whom in a strike situation. In a basic primitive sense, a leader must have strong vocals chords to be able to lead the sheep over the din of dissenting voices. In this situation the leader needs not to have coherent ideas or grand plans, but a high decibel voice to command and shout back at dissent. Its not about answering point by point, but rather thwart discussion by noise!

The utility of having a docile spokesperson to liaise with the management or owners is a very prominent need for a runaway strike as its leaders use such a person for such use!

Arriving at the value of a withheld service charge or a defrauded bonus in a resort situation is a possibility if people are willing to use their brains. A resort works like a clock with many cogs and wheels turning in their routines. Each cog and wheel is bound by its design parameters (in this case things like confidentiality and non-disclosure agreement etc). However short of stealing company’s data to justify a strike, employees can achieve the same result like by following the narrative of the three blind folks who tried to describe the elephant! Forgive the round about way we describe this but, each was wrong individually but collectively they were able to describe the thing they never saw! Likewise, a simple collaborative spreadsheet model (on Excel for eg) could provide some limits to what can be expected for a given period of time, with such and such occupancy, room rates etc. But where is the utility of going through all this when we have a better hunch? But then again, is a hunch good enough when enough is not enough? :)

V. Thinadhoo: a tourism success story untold!

The tiny island of Vaavu Thinadhoo is a tourism success story untold. This is an island of about 30  people (official census 55 as per isles.gov.mv) and two guest houses. The guests live freely among locals and there is mutual love and respect on both sides. Most of the tourists that comes to the island are repeat guests who would not need any invitation to join dinner or lunch  in any house. The island provides guest with a real living adventurous version of holiday typical resorts do not provide to their guests. However the resort is for the traveller type of guests who would love fishing, snorkelling, playing chess with local elders, playing soccer with locals etc….

The idea of tourism in the island occurred to a local of the island and his Italian wife ( the island  medic),  both of them are well loved and respected by guests and islanders alike.  It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to create a fantastic tourism product from scratch and to keep up with guests every expectations continuously day in day out. Bravo to  Ellisa and Mongi for a job  well done and we wish them success.

Govt mulling prohibition

govt mulling prohibition

In an apparent swipe against the ‘mega demo’ on last Friday, the govt announced that its mulling plans to ban import of alcohol and pork. The govt’s spin doctors apparently advised the administration to put a bill through parliament to ban these products and let the MPs do the debates on the issue to point out the unworkable nature of the big-demo demands.
However the way the govt seems to approach these demands is growlingly seen as insincere and half thought-out, provoking interesting discussions across media.
The big demo’s  list of demands were

  1. To forbid the sale of wine and pork and not to designate areas in inhibited islands as ‘UN-inhibited islands’ which is the only way now to be able to operate a bar in an inhibited island as the existing rules prohibit sale of liquor in inhabited islands
  2. To remove the controversial monuments in Addu after the SAARC summit.
  3. To apologize for Ms. Pilley’s remarks about religion
  4. To revoke the decision to allow Israeli airliner  El Al to operate to Maldives.
  5. To close massage parlors in Male’ most  of which are places for prostitution.

our analysis of the big-demo’s demands:

  •  Sale of wine is prohibited for Muslims and a Muslim administration cannot charge royalties, apply fees and issue license etc for forbidden goods. Therefore one workable solution to this problem would be to outsource licensing and regulating of these items to a competent non-Muslim entity. As for pork we understand that several resorts actually do not import this item at all and do not even have standard permits for import of this item. Resorts run by Villa, Jresorts, and Waheedudheen are all doing fine without this item. Import duty on this item can also be waived and import and regulation can also be outsourced.
  • The monuments have done lots of political damage to MDP and also there is no denying the fact that issue has been politicized beyond repair. So it needs to go and the sooner its removed the better for everyone.
  • Apologizing for Ms Pilley’s remarks by the administration or by the  president is neither politically tenable nor beneficial since it wont change the facts. There is also some fact that most of what she has said, has been taken out of context and bloated for political reasons.
  • The call to revoke decision to  grant operating license to Israeli airliner El Al has merits  on moral grounds as Israel continues to defy international opinion on working to establish peace in the region. This is nothing new and many countries and organizations do boycott of Israel in this line of thinking. In our situation we can afford to do this boycott because of our small size but most western countries cannot afford to confront this issue for historic reasons as well as the threat of being ostracized by the powerful pro-Zionist media .
  • The big demo demand  to ban massage parlors in inhabited islands was in fact a call to ban places of prostitution which goes by  names such as massage parlors and beauty saloons etc. It definitely does not involve high end spas managed and run by resorts and its unfortunate that tourism ministry ordered to close spas at Paradise and Villa group’s resorts.

 

Paradise accused of prostitution

Villa group's Flyme airline

Villa group's Flyme airline grounded

In an evolving political dispute heating up between the ruling MDP and the opposition coalition, the latest victims seems to be Villa Group of hotels and their own airline Flyme. Apparently responding to calls to close down  prostitution centres  in the big demonstration held on Friday, the administration responded by sending police and tourism officials to Paradise island to check on the spas in the island. Embroiling in an increasingly political battle, the tourism ministry sent orders to close the spa operation in Villa’s 5 resorts which the resort politely declined citing legal inconsistencies. Villa’s own Flyme airline which ferries tourists and locals to the area around Maamigili island airport has also been grounded yesterday by order from civil aviation authority citing safety concerns. This is in contrast to the fact that other local airlines have never been similarly grounded following major incidents.

Its unfortunate that political scores are being settled against critical infrastructure and tourism facilities which are the mainstay of economy of the country. It is in the interest of the country to keep tourism industry in firm stable footing and to insulate the industry from  political infighting as  tourism industry is critical for the economy.

working against our own interests

23rd december mega protest

It cannot be the greatest sign of wisdom, but we as a country seem forever locked in a battle with ourselves to undermine and work against our own interests, and its paying dividends!

Here is how.
Historically we had the same kind of opportunity as Singapore to benefit from association with the British when they operated a military base in Gan during the second world war period. However our elitist politicians at the time were too busy undermining own interests to get any real benefit from the friendship of a great nation. Even at that time, the executive office in Male’ was obsessed with creating the personal cult of the great dear leader type of drama which benefited none except the dear leader of the time himself. That was during our second president’s time and he is erroneously reported to have brought independence to our country! The fact was that our independence was not lost during that time and only that we had an agreement with the British that we would consult with them on international diplomatic relations which is only fair when Britain had committed to protect the country from any occupying power. Had we done any better instead of putting up a drama with the UK (for domestic audience) we would have been able to get more development to the country.

Our first 3 president’s terms were definitely wasted creating personality cults and into the 1st period of the 4th (current) president, we are witnessing another drama, this time with the limits of freedom, unbridled democracy and experimenting with media power. In the last eventful 4 years we have successfully started the divisive dialogue of religion (to our detriment), started to build the welfare state paid for by an introduction of taxes (to our credit), and generally started a major overhaul of the whole system the country is working on. We have even given a free-reign to media which is understandable as media played a very important role in demolishing the personality cult hyperbole created by former leaders.

This is all good but racing at top speed to reach the all important party manifesto goals in 2013 could be counter productive in the long term. We should slow down and take a more cautious approach because what took us forever to build cannot be rebuild from scratch again in 5 years time.

China could have done the same to Hong Kong when the mainland got Hong Kong from British but chose not to meddle with a good working economy the British left and they are reaping benefits from their decision, keeping everything stable and cautiously asserting their authority.

The effects of our race against time to do everything the democratic and modern-day values way is evident from the bad press and negative perception we are getting everyday thanks to our runaway media and populist politics. Even today in the high tourism season we have travel advisory caution against us by UK which no doubt will be followed by other countries.

Finally.. to cut the long story short:

  • we shall stop the circus about free media and take a more realistic view of news and readership. Media can make or break us so we shall check it if it undermines out top product which is tourism
  •   We shall be able to stop the gang warfare,  daylight robbery, mugging in the 2sq kilo meter island Male’ and stop playing democracy and indecisiveness to criminality.
  • We shall check the divisive debate on religion because we can ill afford to have the Pandora’s box and keep up with the consequences.

Ayada Maldives opens

Ayada Maldives

Ayada Maldives

The latest resort to join the resort list opens quietly on 30th September and the resort looks absolutely stunning. The resort is quite far from Male’ but is actually another addition to growing  tourism in the south.

The specialty about the resort will be its Turkish theme in services and concept, such as the Hammam (steam bath), the Turkish hookahs (smoking water pipes) etc.

Here are some quick facts about the resort.

  • distance: 268 miles south of the capital Male
  • size: 150,000 square metres
  • number of rooms: The 112-villa
  • 33 Beach Villas,
    4 Beach Suites,
    14 Sunset Beach Suites,
    33 Ocean Villas,
    11 Sunset Lagoon Suites,
    16 Sunset Ocean Suites
    1 duplex Ayada Royal Ocean Suite.
  • seven restaurants
  • an extensive 3500 sqm AySpa
  • Health Club managed by ESPA
  • dive and water-sports centre
  • kid’s club.
  • investment: $110 million
  • proposed number of staff: 350
  • rooms price range: 1300$ to 10000$

links:
http://www.asiatraveltips.com/news11/3110-AyadaMaldives.shtml

http://maldives.net.mv/3689/ayada-maldives-resort-opens/

http://ayadamaldives.com/

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=turkish-firm-to-open-luxury-hotel-in-the-maldives-2011-07-25