Recently a fellow resort worker applied to a job in a big brand resort and was well into the process of the interviews untill he asked an innocuous question. He asked how much can he expect as monthly service charge. His interviewer was not impressed. The interviewer refused to disclose any amount be it maximum, minimum or even average. The interview faltered from this point onwards and our friend resort worker didnt win the job.
This is clearly an extremely stupid position held by the resort unaware of how much information about resorts is already out there by excellent collaboration of resort workers.
is a must visit resource for resort workers looking to understand the kind of service charge the resort pays.
Different resorts charge different rates from guests per room night as well as other sales items and services, so there is legit reason for big variation in service charge. However if the variation is big between almost similar sized resorts, there is benefit in being in the know.
According to Vaguthu report, 80 of the 90 local staff are on strike. The local workers demands are actually very simple considering the fact the hotel gets all its revenue in US dollars. The local staff are actually asking for a portion of their salary to be paid in dollars; not even the whole amount. The expat staff are being paid in dollars by HIH and the resort recently increased the pay of expat staff following the recently implemented law on remittance fee for foreign workers in the country. The local workers are citing this as discriminatory as many new taxes were implemented for the local population and they did not get a raise to cover these by the hotel.
Another concern raised by the workers is that almost all the position of management of HIH are filled by expat workers and the hotel offers very little opportunities for local talent.
Two Chinese tourists were rescued by Coast Guard after their transparent seabed drifted out in the lagoon, and out into the sea. The tourists were found by cost guard air craft and rescued shortly after they were spotted. After being taken from the sea they were transported to ADK hospital for checkup. After checkup, they were released as their condition was good.
Adhaaran Prestige Vaadhoo Island Resort is just south of capital Male’ with a big lagoon and beautiful reefs much popular with Chinese guests. The approximate location of the guests when they were rescued would be 12 miles west north west of Vaadhoo.
Following through the news about the ongoing 17th SAARC summit in Addu, it appears that there indeed are some beneficial ideas floating around in the summit. Here are some snippets of ideas under discussion at the summit:
Pakistani delegation proposed to work towards single currency in the region like Euro and to remove visa restrictions throughout the SAARC region.
Sheikh Haseena of Bangladesh spoke about this issue in terms of removing restrictions to migrant workers through SAARC region.
Dr. Manmohan Singh emphasized the need to open up economies for foreign investment.
The Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa proposes to iron out their position with India and Maldives on fish poachery by south Indian fishermen.
Not to be outdone, Maldives proposed common railway link agreement between SAARC member nations which hopefully will make travel between some SAARC countries easier and cheaper.
Looking at these positions, its evident that each politician is just voicing concerns that is primarily advantageous to their economies. This is politically playing it safe and treading the well-worn path. This could be the reason why the region is slow to adapt to any meaningful beneficial proposals from successive SAARC summits over the years. What is needed for the region is bold daring moves to bring meaningful changes to the region. Currently the position of member countries is such that its a pain even to obtain a student visa to most SAARC countries despite all the talk of SAARC brotherhood.
To realize SAARC objectives, the leaders need to rise above the day to day quibbling with political drama and be visionary in thinking. Of course it is easier said than done and in giant countries like Pakistan, India and Bangladesh one would be naive to think that a magic spell exists to rise above that level that keeps our politicians at permanently at their lows.
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.
It used to be the sunny side of life and now its always natural. Not that it used to be unnatural bytheway :).
The brand change has been on official minds for quite some time and the first slogan that came to mind was “value for money”. As soon as our tourism minister, Dr. Zulfa came with this idea, it was torpedoed by various big-shots of tourism industry across the board, as the slogan seems to down-sell our tourism product. Since then, the search for a better slogan and logo had gone on and ultimately the winning slogan and logo was conjured up by a ‘QUO KEEN’ of Bangkok and London’.
Re-branding is the creation of a new name, term, symbol, design, or a combination of them for an established brand with the intention of developing a differentiated (new) position in the mind of stakeholders and competitors. Re-branding could be done for various reasons such as the need to shed a negative image,or to differentiate from competitors. In our case, its more like that somebody somewhere up in the ministry just got bored at staring up at the old sunny side of Maldives logo and vowed to change it at whatever costs! Anyways, the final product is good and thanks to wherever it is due. However we would like to note that our key tourism indicators still look good and keeps getting better.
Below is a comparison of key tourism indicators as a percentage over 2010. The only indicator that has gone south is the average stay duration which could account for the Chinese tourists who opt for shorter stays.
Ps: A heated thread in Minivan on this issue provides a lot of background on the issue.
Laamu Asseyri project could be the next best thing to come to Maldives tourism. Asseyri (or Beach) project was thought up to cater for the growing calls to start mid-market tourism in the country. Tourism experts have called for such a concept for a long time. With the new Assyri concept, guest rooms will be built on the western beach side of Laamu Gan on approximately 25 acres of land. There will be two resorts with 300 beds each, 79 guest houses and recreational facilities.
The selling point for new Asseyri based tourism will be to be able to give lower room rates than conventional resort islands which is perfectly feasible as existing resort islands operate at very high profit margins.
However the concept does not seem to have generated a lot of interests and only 3 parties are known to have proposed bids to build the facilities. The winning bidder is JResorts which is already struggling with a string of undeveloped islands and barely managing to keep afloat their only running resort at Alidhoo. However there is still potential for this idea as Laamu area is being expanded for tourism.
We are getting reports that a strike is happening at Alidhoo Cinnamon Island over last month’s pay. Apparently the resort has still not paid August month’s pay to the staff and is not even able to tell the staff when the resort can pay them. The same situation was repeated in June when staff had to go on strike to get their pay! That time the resort fired 12 staff for their legitimate demand on pay.
Under the labour laws of the country, every employer is required to pay the previous month’s salary no later than the 10th of the next month. Cinnamon Island resort which is owned and managed by JResorts Maldives (formerly Yacht Tours Maldives) has a history of abusing workers rights and flout labour laws without fear of reprisal. The managing director of the company happens to be a senior member of the ruling MDP and a former parliamentarian whose wife is the current SAARC secretary general. It is scandalous that such high profile persons can afford to openly flout laws of the country with impunity.
We call on the Tourism Ministry and the Human Resources ministry to look in to the recurring problem of delays on staff’s monthly pay at resorts managed by JResorts and to bring those responsible to justice.
For those who loves lots of buttons on their phone, are reasonably paranoid about security, is a little bit obsessed with the latest the phone company provides, the latest Blackberry and Wataniyya join-up will be helpful. Wataniyya has infact sold out its stock of Blackberries and is awaiting a bigger shipment of phones very soon. The novelty is not in the phone but in the service. This time Dhiraagu has properly been beaten by Wataniyya on who gets there first with Blackberry. But lets read the fine-print. Important details are always dropped down to the bottom of the page in to the fine-print area hoping the majority of people would conveniently skip them over.
Wataniyya Blackberyy services
BlackBerry® Messenger & E-Mail*
FREE Local Minutes
So there it is! The UNLIMITED mobile internet, email and social networking that’s deal here. This UNLIMITED word infact means exactly the opposite! The package is limited to 1GB and 1.5GB of data which is survivable if you can go without enjoying any online videos. The other two parts Emails and Social networking are even not relevant because typical emails and facebook statuses does not go beyond even a kilobyte of data. The real fine-print Wataniyya is hoping we conveniently look-over is the 1 laari per kilobyte they will happily charge if a customer goes over the 1GB monthly allowance. At that rate, an access of even 1Mb will be 10Rf which is not generous even by Dhiraagu’s greedy standards!
Under the economics reform agenda, it was decided that 8500 people will be trained in various areas of study in work related fields to combat widespread unemployment among young people. According to the plan there will be 56 areas of study for study which will certify the participants in 1 to 6 month duration courses some of which will be accredited internationally.
According to latest statistics of HRM, there are 2000 vacancies in construction industry, >3000 vacancies in tourism industry, 700 vacancies in transport industry and 800 vacancies in fisheries industry.
Out of 205033 locals eligible for work, 38602 are out of work whilst another 73840 expatriates works in different sectors throughout the country.
In theory this is alright, jobs are there lying vacant unmatched to prospective job-seekers. Job seekers also would have to be helped to become skilled if they are not. But the real problem that 30% of people eligible to work who remain unemployed is because of unrealistically low wages. Consider the picture below.
The picture is a typical job ad by a top local business brand which clearly is seen offering an unreasonably low pay for a demanding job. As for skills required, fiber optic networking could not be attempted without skills. Yet a lousy 3k per month is offered for full time employment which actually means, the employer is not interested in hiring locals. A local simply cannot survive on that kind of pay in Male’ island if he does not live in a hole or a cave or needs to eat and drink water even if occasionally!
Job ads like these are clearly designed to exclude locals from work and is all the more reason why we shall have a basic minimum wage and other protective measures like work visa quotas. Ideally a country would be left better off not having to legislate on issues like this, but if employers do not take the social responsibility then they shall be prompted to. Its also worth noting that the worst offenders when it comes to dodging social responsibility are the local employers who still have pre-slave era beliefs about the worker class.
Apparently there is an issue about our parliament members requesting privacy of their phone numbers, which is despite the fact that most members pledged to be in contact and forever approachable by the people in their election campaigning. Most parliament members promptly went back on their pledge the moment their election victory was announced. However an effort led by a facebook group Majliswatch calling for reform of majlis member’s pay structure have put up a posters in Male’ with our majlis members photos and their contact details asking the people to send views direct to the members on this and other similar reform issues.
We believe this is a very good initiative and everyone shall engage in calling for reform of relevant issues through majlis. Majlis members as they are people’s representatives shall respect the peoples right to be heard and shall maintain open lines of communications with the people. As long as they are in the service of the people, the people will have every right to demand and to know how much their representatives are being paid, offered, by whom and what-for etc.. This is basically accountability to the people.
Listed below here are some details of our parliamentarians and their contact numbers. We urge all fellow resort workers to respect their position and address issues in respectable terms when texting your views.
It might have something to do with the proliferation and easy access to media, but almost every other day the sad news of a drowned or disappeared person is relayed in local news. Normally when a person goes missing in an island, the islanders comb the whole island sometimes for a whole week, during the same time authorities are notified who in their part scour the seas from the sky using hired aircraft. Sometimes the body washes up a few days later, and sometimes the search goes fruitless. Although not frequently attached with the grim story of such a fatality, the authorities do spend huge amounts of money on such search operations.
Prevention is indeed better than cure at which the tourism ministry is currently drawing up guidelines to tourism industry to incorporate safety guidelines at new resorts which will require more emphasis on safety. Same or more measures in these lines needs to be implemented in building/construction and fisheries industries where people work with dare-devil mentality. Its not particularly smart to be a daredevil, it pays to be precautions.
Perhaps one small help that we can use to do an effective search with minimal cost would be to use drone technology instead of hiring normal airplanes. There are drones which can do spectacular military strength photography from above, which can be very useful in situations like this at very reasonable prices. Such drones are sometimes used by oil exploration companies and environmental agencies to photograph massive areas cost effectively. One such drone technology available for civilian use was bought and used by Libyan rebels against Gaddafi forces on their march to Tripoli in the days prior to 23rd August, the day they stormed Tripoli. The system they used was called Aeryon Scout, a product of Cananadian company which was sold for a little less than what would cost to buy an “3 cylinder engine dhoni” (100k$ to 200k$)in our terms. If our forces opt for this technology in their search operations it surely will enable them to do more thorough searches of large areas of land and sea many times less expensive than current methods.
Not to be unfair or one sided but if a survey is made of all the resorts in Maldives and asked which employers are the worst, Jresorts will come to the bottom of the results. There is very little doubt about that. Its a combination of bad politics and corrupt business practices which views the workers as nothing better than paid slaves. This is in very contrast to the excellent service resort workers give to their high paying clients who blissfully are unaware that the workers who pamper them in their expensive holidays sometimes go without pay for months while they still retain the smile.
Our solidarity with the wronged staff of Alidhoo Cinnamon Island who were summarily dismissed for asking for their last month’s salary. This sends a chilling message to honest workers who toil hard in resorts far away from family and friends that employers can still cheat and threat and getaway with everything and nobody seems to take notice!
Here are some background info about Alidhoo the resort, the parent company and the owner of the bussiness.
Jresorts is owned and managed by Mr. Abdulla Jabir who is frequently referred to as a self made businessman from Huvadhooo Atoll. However like all creations of the state Mr. Jabir was also a creation of the former administration. Specifically Mr. jabir rose to prominence in tourism industry by association with Yameen the powerful minister who held many ministerial portfolios and half-brother of the Maumoon the last president. It could be safely assumed that almost all of Jabir’s resorts were built, renovated or maintained by finances and materials from deals with the State Trading Organization whose board chairman was also Yameen at the time. So unlike most resort owners who struggled with finance arrangements, Jabir had an important friend at the right place and time. Mr. Jabir’s wife the Diyana the current SAARC secretary general is not associated with his bussiness but its frequently noted in forums and local news that the position for Dhiyana was offered as part of a political deal to keep Mr. Jaabir away from ruling party politics. He is the only prominent politician/businessman in the country to have been in all major political parties, DRP, MDP, Jumuhooee Party, And People’s Alliance (Yaameen’s party) in so a short period of time. Basically he is an opportunist businessman involved in politics for the business interests like everywhere else around the world.
Jresorts currently owns Alidhoo, , KudaRah, Vatavarreha, Funamaudda among many other islands. The parent company of the islands is Yacht Tours Maldives. Past management deals and ownerships include Dhonveli Beach and Spa which has been sold to John Keels Holding Co of Sri lanka and Herethere which was leased from MTDC. The Herethere deal has since been abandoned after a sizable loss to everyone including the MTDC. Jresorts has also been awarded an island in lieu of a failed bid he presented to Vilivaru and Biyadhoo which was a precedent which has since not been replicated.
Raa Atoll Maamunagau island has been awarded to BIR Hotel Management (Pvt) Ltd. The island has been awarded under new procedures without a competing bidding process, whereby the resort is developed as a joint venture business with the participating company and the government. The government retains a 5% share which will be sold back to the company one year later. The island is awarded after taking advance cash payment of 2.5m$ which will be paid in 30 days and another 2.5m$ to be paid in 1.5years.link :@ Haveeru
Two more regional airports are to built at Huvadhoo Atoll accompanied by two more resorts!
The first airport is to be built on Kooddoo which also has the fish processing facility. The developer would be Bonaventure (Maldives) Pvt Ltd. Bonaveture has also been given Gaaf Alif Dhigurah to develop a resort as consideration for developing the airport at Kooddoo.
The second airport will be built at Gaaf Dhaal Maavarulu. The developer will be Moving International Pvt.Ltd. As consideration for the development of the airport, the company has been awarded Gaaf Alif Kodaanahutta
Addu City authorities propose to develop areas of the city as a Asseyri (Beachside) Project. The two areas ear-marked for development under this project are the Maafishi Area of Hulhumeedhoo Island and the start of the Hankede area, Hithadhoo.
An MoU has been signed between Kalaidhu Investment and Dubai’s Jauhara Group to open first Shari’a-compliant resort in Maldives. The resort would comprise of 50-75 luxury villas with private swimming pools as well as a private beach, restaurant, recreation centre, spa, marina and yachts, is estimated to cost between US$70-100 million and is expected to be complete by late 2013 or early 2014.
Tourism Ministry has issued last warning of revocation of operating licenses for 10 resorts and Nasandhura Palace Hotel, which were given a 90-day notice for failing to pay the lease rent, land rent and the fine, fail to settle the payments before July 20. The notices were given to Alidhoo Island, Kudarah Island Resort managed by Yacht Tours Maldives, Summer Season Maldives managed by Huvadhumaafushi, and Filitheyo Island Resort Maldives and Medhufushi Island Resort Maldives run by AAA Hotels and Resorts. Zitahli Resorts and Spa Kuda-Funafaru , Kihaadhuffaru Island Resort managed by Athama Marine International, and Olhuveli Resort run by Olhuveli Laamu Holdings were also given the notice.
The problem of illegal workers has soared to new heights as the country is listed on US State Department’s human trafficking watch list for a second year. To tackle the problem the military has been manning the immigration counters and human resources ministry to investigate the root causes of the problem. Prior to this takeover the two offices (immigration and human resources ministry) were not able to solve the problem of which office keeps which monies associated with the immigration and visa fees process. The problem was resolved that neither office gets to keep any monies related to expatriates visas, deposit fees, work permit, return ticket etc. Instead Maldives Inland Revenue Authority takes over the money matters from the two offices.
Briefly the various numbers associated with the illegal immigrants are as follows
130milion Rf as lost visa fees per year for the country.
Greater than 40000 estimated illegal immigrants in the country. The two separate databases kept by the Immigration Department and Human Resources Ministry has a variance of greater than 20000 which is making it difficult to estimate the size of the problem.
All legal expatriate worker pays 250rf per month as work visa fees.
1 office serves visas. 1 entry point for immigration.
Expatriates are estimated to remit 10m$ per month. The dollar shortage problem is frequently associated with this problem. However the single most drainer of dollars is high government spending.
Its also estimated that workers remit 100-800$ per month per worker which is contrary to popular belief that illegal workers work almost for pennies!
Recruitments agencies are charged 1500rf per worker as deposit.
To counter the unwieldy problem, the government resorted to a new boarder control system which also fell foul to corruption: The monies involved in the new boarder control system are $220m for 20 years for a company called Nexbis: A comparable system that is employed in in Sri Lanka costs 2.2$m to install and to develop!
Minimum wage is an emotive issue which has broad consensus of acceptance. Its evident from the ongoing dialogue on the issue in various media outlets. There was an attempt to set up a minimum wage for the country to prevent labour exploitation in the past which was duly shot down by the pro-business lobby in the People’s Majls. The current attempt to set the minimum wage comes at a time the balance of power is shifting in favour of the ruling MDP party which hopes to re-energize the local economy by creating more jobs for the locals, releasing and unsustainable peg on dollar to rufiyaa and introducing long overdue tax reforms. Although there are voices of dissent only from the bussiness lobby which includes resorts owners such as Villa group chairman Gasim Ibrahim, Sun Travel Shiyam the minimum wage issues is expected to proceed through People’s Majlis.
Contrary to popular belief, minimum wage when it becomes reality will not be as high as is expected of it. The figure could be based on criteria such as type of work or age of worker etc or one all encompassing one figure such as 2000.00rf etc. It remains to be seen how the the figure is arrived but one criteria the govt. will have on mind is to device it in such away that the current labour exploitation will be halted by this one stroke of legislation. The Minimum wage figure need only to be above the edge the employers are employing expatriates over locals such as 70$ or 100$ per month levels. With these levels of pay, the workers (often expatriates) are enduring back-breaking work in exploitative conditions and suffering for years on end without any regard to rights and benefits of work. If the minimum wage figure is higher than these levels, there is a good chance that construction industry will be more favourable for local employment.
The business lobby will work hard to undermine this measure and yet they do not have convincing arguments against the measure. Vague observations like “we will go bankrupt.. if this happens” only exposes the depth of their understanding of basic issues in running a business. If they do not offer credible objections or alternatives , then they are just a voice and no more. Running a business is no more like a running a slave-trade operation. That was some time back and does not reflect current working condition in resorts or construction industry or anywhere else.
Its wonderful news that the Tourism Ministry wakes up to reality and is dropping out of the fake marketing scam thats called new 7 wonders of whatever it is! Maldives is beautiful as it is. The country has a booming tourism industry and can do very well without fake marketing by fine-tuning the tourism industry; bringing progressive changes, innovating good practices, caring for the industry workers etc etc. The primary purpose of these ‘precious’ marketing schemes is to generate cash for themselves and is bewildering how mature brains can fall for frauds like this. The energy that went to get the country ‘voted’ to poll position clearly shows the enthusiasm that went to believe in the hoax in the first place. Departing guests were made to vote on-line at the airport in support raising of our ranking in the scheme. School students, civil service workers, common folks all voted like mad to give the country a poll position in the new7wonders all the while not knowing the fraudulent nature of the marketing scheme! Now that the hoax is out with the realization that its not the beauty of the country that counts but rather the amount of money we can produce to get the rankings, its time to quit and focus our energies on where it matters. At the industry, the visitors, the islands and the people that makes the it tick! (the workers– like us).
The government has added May 1 to the list of official public holidays after a cabinet meeting yesterday. Its an improvement from over the years where a day for workers rights was unheard of. Workers rights in the Maldives has largely been championed by the tourism sector workers who have put a lot of effort to raise the issues of workers and has suffered the most. The last workers rally conducted by the TEAM was attended by a few dedicated resort workers and was a novelty kind of approach to voice workers issues. The few attendees held placards displaying various issues faced by the workers. The issues included calls to implement the provisions of labour law as well as demands to review the labour laws! The situation is worse this year as recent patches to labour law crafted by MATI (resort owner’s cartel) has been added in to labour laws, which almost effectually bans workers protests in resorts.
The employers appears still firmly locked in medieval mindset when it comes to playing fair with the workers. What has to dawn on employers is the fact that a happy, loyal, motivated workforce will be more productive and more beneficial for the business they are employed in. It doesn’t make anybody a genius to know that and to apply these. It would also be universally acknowledged that employers in this day and time couldn’t be that daft not to know such a basic truth. However it should be beneficial to be reminded that we are dealing with the same employers who raised fears that resorts would have to hire double the amount of staff they were currently employing just to comply with the 8 hour work rule when the labour law was enacted. Its a sign of how low the employer class been and how much catching up there is.
The island of Kudafinolhu is north of fun island is in the press with the Villa Group claiming the tourism ministry’s revision of the rent for the island is against the original agreement signed with the ministry. The island was leased to the Villa group at a paltry 1500 dollars as a picnic island. The revised rent is based on the size of the island and amounts to 51,784 dollars annually.
The case highlights the corruption and self-interest at play in the tourism ministry over the years and its an encouragement that the tourism ministry is at-last seen to be doing something about these issues.
Although a picnic island by itself does not generate income like a ‘resort’, resorts sell excursions to guests which is a lot of money on a yearly basis. For the purpose of rent for the k.kudafinolhu, 1500 dollars is only symbolic. This goes in the same line where Villa group was awarded a plot of land in Male’ for filling station for only 6rf per sq-ft. If we consider another similar island Kuda Bandos, which is a primarily local picnic island, the rent for the island is 1,130,333 dollars! so the kinds of money expected from picnic island is not paltry at all when dealt farily. There are more islands and more stories like this which needs to come out to light and accountability.
The long expected devaluation of local currency Rufiya has happened with an official range of 10.28rf to 15.42rf per 1$ announced yesterday. The immediate implications of this exchange hike would be a jump in consumer goods prices so one Rufiya would have less buying power than it had one day ago. This measure was enacted by president Anni with consultations of financial experts to curb a thriving black market for dollars at higher than official figures for exchange rate. The official storyline is that although there will be a lift in consumer goods prices in the short term, the crisis will pass and that dollar to Rufiya rate will fluctuate on a daily basis and everyone will live happily ever after. However with the current political realities its difficult to believe this measure will go unchallenged by the opposition.
The implications of this dollar exchange rate will be negatively felt by resort workers in resorts where the staff are paid their salaries in Rufiyas. Although there is no real reason for resorts to pay salaries in Rufiyas, several resort do exactly that. This is despite the fact that all the revenues generated in the resorts are foreign currency.
The construction industry will also be affected by this exchange rate measures, which hopefully will consider offering more work opportunities for local workers. The current model for construction industry is to employ illegal immigrant workers at near extortion rates for back breaking work and to employ only illegal immigrant workers (because they will be unlikely to pursue their rights in official channels) to do the job all the while saying local talent is unavailable. Nothing can be further from truth. Locals are as or more willing to work for a reasonable pay which the ‘construction industry’ does not seem inclined to give.
Ultimately, the solution to dollar shortage in the country is to adopt more financial reform measures which will be fought with on every step of the way by our opposition political parties which has only mission in office; to oppose the government weather its right or wrong!