Tourism in Maldives have come a long way from the days of spear wielding “environmental- terrorist” kind of pioneer days. That was a time when our government was not decided about the merit of tourism and every one was kind of like taking a wait and see kind of approach. About 3 decades back there were no such worries as pollution, stress on corals and marine life as is today with mass tourism in full swing.
Cutting a long story short, the change of the regime from Maumoon to Anni was a long awaited much anticipated move which brought with more expectations as is generally the case. With new faces in the government, a drastically changed political system, there arose the problem of finance which is needed to implement more services to the country. Every political party when assuming leadership will want to preserve their position come the next election. However the state of finance was in a precarious situation when the actual handover began and the present government had to find more ways to generate the required finances. To complicate the problem the Peoples Majlis was dominated by the opposition which is still out there just to make life as miserable for the government as possible. Of the first bills sent to Majlis to debate upon were the bills on taxation which if implemented would have been a third avenue of income for the government besides tourism and fisheries. However party politics killed hopes of that bill which is still lying dormant in the Malis waiting to be debated. This led the government to contemplate on more ways to benefit from tourism which is where the city hotel business ideas come from. Tourism in Maldives is very unique in the sense typically a whole hotel or resort is situated in one island complete with staff, utilities and everything. In theory there should be about 1000 islands where resorts can be developed as roughly 200 islands are inhabited. However the vast majority of these islands are still there unproductive for various far too many reasons only waiting to be utilized.
The idea of city hotels in inhabited islands recently came to public debate with the decision by the government to allow liquor licenses to these city hotels which is strongly criticized by the locals and the government has been forced to reconsider the decision. Its also worth noting that there are only a handful of these city hotels in Male’ and are primarily used for the business and diplomatic type of clients who would rather mind their ‘business’ than be pampered in an idyllic beach… which normally costs lots and lots of money in Maldives. Also for the ‘city hotel’ type of business to flourish in earnest there needs more to it than the sense of hopelessness by the government which seems to be the case at the moment. For such a model to work, there shall be an efficient transport network as our islands are rather small and can bore guests with a handful of landmarks in Male’ etc. Where there is lack of landmarks it shall be corrected with constructing landmarks and where there is lack of history, context has to be built for such issues which hopefully will help alleviate the void of city hotel tourism in the country. Currently apart from a few renown cemeteries there are no landmarks in Male to be shown and even the written and known histories of those places are little known and much less researched than shall have been.