Why not give discounted room rates to individual customers rather than to Tour Operators? To make them fat?

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Guests want to book their holidays with the resort; resort wants guests to book directly with them.

But resorts give discounted wholesale rate to tour operators but not to individual guests despite wanting them as direct booked guests. What cooks?

anantara-dhigu-sunrise-beach

Here is the everyday situation in resorts that shouldn’t have been in the first place. After seeing a gorgeous picture (something like the picture below) of the perfect blue sky and an even perfect white beach, the would be guest hurriedly tries to book a romantic getaway to Maldives with a life partner. Searching through google brings the guest tons of ads almost all leading them to a booking site. The booking site happily lets the would be guest click through a few times on the webpage and sends confirmation email with travel itinerary and a welcome email for holiday package worth sometimes a little over 5k$ for a week’s stay in one of the most beautiful islands in the world. The customer is indeed set back that many dollars from his net worth for this effortless business created by a third-party booking site. The hotel gets a slice of the pie as well as the booking site and sometimes a few other partners all enjoy a slice of the pie. This is standard proven business model right?

Actually this maybe the wrong model but the one working model customer has no option but to comply with.  Tour operation is effortless big business which should belong to history. At least that’s what it should be considering Maldives is one of the safest destinations in the world, together with good internet coverage and this being 2017; in theory a customer shall be able to deal directly with hotel to book his stay without intermediaries. But why are guests still paying the (evil) middle man? The answer is actually funny and kind of depressing.  Resorts give discounted wholesale rates to tour operators with the assurance that tour operators will do the marketing work and send guests to the resort in off-season. Its outsourcing their most important department (marketing) and doing business the effortless way.

Marketing in most resorts in Maldives is less about marketing than dealing with outsourced marketing firms and tour operators. Tour operation is so widespread that there are tour agencies who do not market at all, but sell packages to other tour operators from discounted packages they get from resorts. What all this does is add bloat to the customer’s holiday package from which only a small portion is received at the resort. This is one reason vacation packages in Maldives are pricy compared to some similar destinations. On the other side it’s also important to keep prices artificially high to appeal to the wealthy customers for “exclusivity effect”.  This is also mostly true of big brand resorts while average resorts are happy with their island being self- marketed by natural beauty and word of mouth type marketing.

Can I fly my latest DJI drone in resort?

This is a frequent question guests ask while in resort. Most guests buy their drones before coming holiday and have the idea to use the holiday time to practice drone skills. Some even bring high end photography drones to capture their happy moments. The answer depends on the resort they are staying. Some high end resorts which often hosts celebrities limit drone use for guests citing privacy issues of other guests. In such a situation its likely guests will be directed to a nearby uninhibited island or to supervised sessions with resort’s security personnel. Drone use can also be a problem if resort hosts a sea plane platform and frequent sea plane transfers happen on the island. It just takes a few distracted seconds before a sea plane appears in the resort’s lagoon out of nowhere.

On the other side, aerial videos and shots by guests is free marketing by guests which has tremendous value. 

Also with a recent update to small businesses rules, the authorities forbid proffessional photography equipments to be imported, with the exception of registered media outlets or locals for personal use. So its always better to check with resort before bringing expensive photography drones to resort. 

In current resort news…

Holiday island workers abstaining from work because the employer has not paid the Ramadan bonus and service charge for the last 6 months. The workers are demanding the employer provide a date whereby the employer can pay what is owed to the workers. All workers except two are abstaining from work. The Villa group of resorts have been struggling for sometime due to the political pressure by being against the current regime which at one time had actually cancelled some trading licenses for the groups businesses. The Villa group is just barely surviving after having to give in to lots of demands by the government which included the chairman Gasim of promising not to contest the presidential election come 2018.

Source: http://www.vaguthu.mv/news/317455/

https://maldivesresortworkers.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/alidhoo.jpg?w=306

Alidhoo is a four star resort owned and managed by yacht tours. The resort employs only 15 local staff and the rest are expatriates. Some of the staff have not been paid for 8 months. Some have been working without pay for 11 months. Alidhoo has been in the news for all the bad reasons for some time as a notorious employer and the chairman of the group that controls the resort is a politician who is allied with the current ruling party.

Source: http://www.vaguthu.mv/news/317460/

Tourists stopped en route to Diego Garcia!

An ambitious project by German and Italian tourists possibly to demonstrate against the Diego Garcia was prematurely stopped by the Maldives forces after it has emerged that a group of tourists had rented a fishing boat and were heading to that direction with 5k litres of diesel, a dingy and other items. According to local media, the dhoni was hired by a group of 7 tourists and was hired for 2 days. It’s not uncommon for tourists to arrange big game fishing trips on big dhonis. Hiring dhonis by tourists has never been an issue before. However this time the authorities suspect the tourists were actually planning to do a surprise visit Diego Garcia or demonstrate the forcible removal of its inhabitants in 1973.

Worrying political developments in Male’

Maldives is going through a phase of undemocratic gangsta-rule just when we need more democracy and more and fair treatment for the people. It seems we are taking huge leaps backward and the process is too strong to halt.

It came slowly but things are getting speedy now. First it was websites having to register with home ministry so that nothing untoward can be said against the authorities. At the same time former president’s (now a convicted terrorist!) case against detaining a judge was getting dust in the court because the govt. was not decided what to do with him. The decision to make him a terrorist only happened after Rehendhi flats in Hulhumale were awarded to state prosecutor and supreme court judges. Perhaps re-activating president Nasheed’s case and make a terrorist out him was their way of thanking the regime for the generosity.

Former president was a colorful character both loved and hated almost by equal measure by the population. He was loved for his amicable character honest talk and innovative style of leadership. He was hated for some of his liberal views which are too liberal at times (such as trying to cozy up to Israel when they were bombing Gaza..) and exclusives, sometimes autocratic style of governance most probably pushed to by party activists. Whatever he may have been, he was definitely not a terrorist and the political case against him was dispensed with in a very questionable judicial process which was just a political sham as declared by world bodies such as the ICJ and Amnesty International. What the government fails to acknowledge now is their stand that they are following the law doesn’t hold much water, since every dictatorship used the same language when repressing the people. Things like apartheid, colonialism and slavery were all legal at the time it was practiced and by those who practiced it. But that doesn’t mean it was right.

Just as everything is connected to everything else, the current political intrigues all connect with president Yameen and tourism minister Adeeb. There will be lots of questions they will have to answer to come clean through things that are going very wrong, such as the wrongful conviction and framing of a once political ally, the former defense minister Nazim. In a plot straight out from comics, the former defense minister was sentenced for 11 years for allegedly plotting to kill 3 people including Adeeb, the president Yameen, and police commissioner Hussein Waheed.

The ‘plan’ is a sad but elaborate hoax which is better suited for movies than real life. In the plan the subjects all have nice pictures and proper names and even describes their ends in plain words suitable for laymen to understand the implications. The plan also connects all current government foes such as Villa group of hotels as accessory to terror and doesn’t even leave anyone out, even the religious extremists. The saddest part is that the ‘court’ accepted this hoax and sentenced a potential political rival to Yameen to kill his career.

And then there are the gangs… Even before Yameen became president there were allegations he was controlling some gangs in Male’. Notably Masodi gang was always mentioned by the opposition. Politicians are always labeled with this and that but there are worrying indications that these allegations have some weight in cases such as the notorious drug dealer Safa who was flown to Sri Lanka from jail and later he won appeal against his case being a fugitive in Sri lanka. We have something like 11 gangs operating in Male’ and its almost common knowledge that the authorities have failed to stop them. Gang wars happen daily in Male in full day light, despite Male’ being such a small place. Only last week we had 2 murders by gangs in Male’, one a Bangladeshi waiter was killed in his café’ and despite the gang being known, the police have not apprehended any gang member yet. Although they have searched a local parliament members residence for the murderer’s clues. The gang is known to associate with the said MP. The implication from the latest murder was that government decided to shorten business hours by one hour forcing the shops to close at 10 and cafes at 12. This hasty decision comes as opposition parties are holding nightly demonstrations against the government and will be seen as a punishment for the business community.

If all the above weren’t enough, worst is yet to come. The government has decided that they will use special powers to prevent demonstration starting from Saturday which means that all demos will be dispersed with no notification and as soon as it happens. This is a serious infringement on the right to protest and it appears that the government is seriously weak to handle any more pressure from the streets. They have failed to checkup on what was pointed out by the opposition as serious wrongs and seems to be on an unstoppable descent to electoral defeat in 2018 or some possible event even sooner.

Links:

http://minivannews.com/news-in-brief/home-ministry-opens-up-second-call-for-newspaper-magazine-re-registration-91854

https://raajje.mv/33750

http://www.vaguthu.mv/en/12853

http://www.icj.org/maldives-grossly-unfair-nasheed-conviction-highlights-judicial-politicization/

https://www.amnesty.org/en/articles/news/2015/03/maldives-mohamed-nasheed-convicted-terrorism/

http://www.haveeru.com.mv/news/58544

http://www.haveeru.com.mv/news/59861

http://www.dhivehisitee.com/judiciary/getting-away-with-murder/

Former president Anni sentenced for 13 years behind bars

In a deeply flawed trial, the former president Anni was found of guilty of terrorism and sentenced 13 years behind bars. This is a deeply shocking news to many as the twists and turns of this saga were closely followed by friends and foes alike, although nobody believed he would anyhow get a free or fair trial. President Nasheed (popularly known as Anni) had many friends and foes, but even most of his foes agree that this time he has received more than he deserves.

Some facts about the trial:

  • Anni’s defense witnesses were prevented from giving witness; the court essentially said the prosecution witnesses were too strong to be negated by defense witness.
  • One of the three sitting judges was a prosecution witness in the first lesser charge. The state prosecutor was also a witness to the case.
  • The prosecution changed the charge sheet almost overnight without giving Anni’s lawyers time to make defense. The original charge was a lesser charge of wrongfully imprisoning a person, the later was terrorism.
  • Anni’s lawyers had to quit because the court essentially made it impossible for them to work by giving them strange and unworkable deadlines to defend the former president.

Despite these setbacks this will be a blow to the sitting government for allowing this farce of a court case to have gone to completion. In the middle of the court case there were frequent allegations and sightings of govt. officials such as the all powerful tourism minister meeting with sitting Judges and even supreme court judges. The allegations were that current government wanted the courts to windup the case as quickly as possible so as not to allow more media scrutiny into the case. It is also interesting to note that this court case was quickly revived up after being left gathering dust for 3 years just a few weeks after government owned apartments were given to court judges.

Politically this is a big mistake by PPM who have majority of parliament, government and judiciary all in their hands to be seen as crushing any form of dissent. The government cannot hide under the slogan that they are unable to interfere with judicial proceedings. This is a well-known tactic everywhere used by all sorts of dictators to crush dissent. They used just one mantra and it won’t buy them any legitimacy. It is unlikely that the govt. can stand the negative pressure from media and global community.

http://www.haveeru.com.mv/dhivehi/news/167021

Biggest stories of 2014

2014 ended with two important stories for Maldives tourism.

One is the opening of Amillafushi in Baa atoll which has been a long time in the works and looks a little bit different compared to most other resorts. Amilla Fushi has 71 rooms and is the newest addition to the tourism industry.

There was also the all important story of Gasfinolhu resort going fully solar powered which is a first for any resort in Maldives. According to the resort they have installed 6000 sq meters of solar panels which is enough to power 1.6mw of electricity per day. Gasfinolhu has been renovated from a 30 room resort to 52 rooms which includes 30 water bungalows and is fully solar powered. The owner estimates he will be able to recover the cost of investment in 6 to 7 years.

It’s a good start which will get other tourism big shots to think about what to do next to reduce the energy bill for their resorts. Since the story and in very unrelated news the oil producer club of nations has started cutting down on fuel prices which is currently just the double of price level before the first Iraq war. Nobody seems to know the reason for the sharp decline in fuel price; some citing this as a price war initiated by oil producing nations to kill off fracking industry in US to make the practice and other alternative fuel sources unviable (including solar). Whatever the politics of oil there is no reason not to tap off to the energy of sun especially when we have it all year round and in abundance.

Male’ out of water

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Following a massive  fire in the MWSC, water supply in Male has been cut off. According to sources in Male’, the control panel boards of the water production facility caught fire and serious damages was caused which resulted in the water outage. The facility produces 17000 cubic meters of water per day and serves a population of 150000. In comparison a typical resort of 200 rooms will have ro plants capable of producing 500 cubic meters of water per day. A typical swimming pool might have anything from 20 cubic meters to 60 cubic meters of water. As the water situation in Male’ is being worked on it reminds us all of the preciousness of water, something we all take for granted. There are tremendous scope for growth and improvement in the area of water production both in resorts and in islands such as newer and better pump designs, pressure exchangers, membranes and controls to manage flow etc. In the case of congested cities such as Male’ there is the additional need to have redundancies in the system as well decentralize production to minimize risk of total outage.

Why do we still use brass locks in resorts?

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Beats us all, doesn’t it? This is 2014 and this is about using technology of the era of pyramid’s in most expensive resorts in Maldives. Even locals have started using electronic locks in homes especially in Male’ and yet most resorts are still using these heavy brass monstrosities (keys) maybe with the thinking that guests are stupid and can’t handle something as advanced as an RFID embedded plastic card. Apart from the clumsiness of having to carry them around often with heavy wooden tags there is the little worry of cutting lost keys, keeping of records, originals of all keys and occasional changing of key barrels and so much more that goes with it. In comparison the electronic locks are simple, easy to replace, light weight, much more secure and cheaper and environmentally friendly. So basically there shall be no excuse to use brass locks and keys in resorts at this age and time other than callousness which by the way is all too common.

Good things just happen… sometimes

In a heartwarming announcement, the gender ministry is at last trying to do a long overdue good thing for the country. This is about providing employment for the disabled. The stated goal is to provide 30 jobs for thirty individuals by this year from participating public companies and government affiliated institutions.

Providing jobs to people able or disabled has never been a priority of any government past or present although politicians will vehemently disagree. Although much noise was made about just doing that, actions spoke louder and the results are there to show. We have a huge unemployment problem the size of which will be known once the census data comes out by then end of this month. In developed countries like USA they do actually estimate how much jobs was shed or created during a particular month. We are far from that level and the ‘authorities’ are really trying to grapple the unemployment monster by doing their typical baby steps. But estimation of our unemployment problem shall not be a very big problem at all. This is a tiny country where we don’t have lots of legacy systems and compatibility of datasets and lots of red tape to hinder such work. All we have is lots of inefficiency and unproductively, lack of imagination to solve problems and passionate political thinking everywhere.

All hope is not lost yet, good things are happening albeit slowly and with every improvement there is reason for optimism.

Where is the Mad one?

This is probably the hottest question in Maldives right now. This is about a prolific blogger who used the alias “moyameeha” meaning mad person who mysteriously went missing one evening 46 days ago. Since then many things happened and this case has been on everyone’s conscience and yet after a lot of work trying to find him, his whereabouts is unknown. From what is already known, he lives alone in Hulhumale and has received online threats for his controversial views like politicians prior to the disappearance. Police have launched a massive campaign to find him and yet they don’t seem to have come up with much. Maybe they have but they aren’t revealing much of what they have found. Notable news stories that has since come up with which may or may not be connected with this story include a report of a forcible abduction of a person in Hulhumale and a storage facility that was destroyed by fire. The abduction according to police was a woman who was drunk and they refused to divulge any other information about this case as they believe the two cases are not related. The storage facility that was destroyed by a huge fire some allege might have something to do with disposing of evidence to something more sinister. However nobody is sure of anything as of yet, and the authorities are not yet in singing mood.

And then there is the politics.

MDP the opposition party is trying to get as much currency out of this issue since their electoral defeat, in both presidential and parliamentary elections and accusations are flying energetically everywhere. Proxy NGO’s run by MDP members are making reports accusing everybody from the president to the scholar to the laymen and everyone in between. Astounding as it may seen, they are even energetically promoting the theory that this is about a forced disappearance orchestrated by religious scholars and irreligious street thugs however difficult maybe to promote the theory. One peculiar thing that is unique to MDP is always to appealing to their international partners rather than trying to convince the electorate that their position is better than their enemies. In this regard they have made quite damaging allegations against the country such that investors and tourists arrivals will be affected by alleging the country is gripped by extremism etc. This is not a new thing to MDP and this maybe the reason why they lost lot of support from patriotic mainstream when they are seen to be too out of touch with the common people and too eager to impress their international partners elsewhere.

Whatever the political leanings maybe, this is a worrying case and there appears to be an honest desire to arrive at the truth with the resources we have. Even if a crime is established and a culprit brought before the law, it’s highly improbable that justice will be served because of the giant sized holes in our constitution.

Petition to urge the government to develop tourist resorts in H.Dh Atoll

http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/To_President_of_the_Maldives_Abdulla_Yameen_Abdul_Gayoom_Petition_to_urge_the_government_to_develop_tourist_resorts_in_H/?nEqNihb

Why this is important

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Haa Dhaal Atoll has the highest population compared with the other individual atolls, yet the needs of the people from this atoll have gone unnoticed or perhaps unheard for years by consecutive governments. It is worrying to highlight that residents of Haa Dhaal Atoll earn the lowest income in this country. Similarly, but not surprisingly, people of Haa Dhaal Atoll have the lowest standard of living compared with other regions of Maldives. These factors, combined with lack of employment opportunitiesavailable within the atoll have caused mass migration of people to Male’ in search of jobs, better education and better healthcare. As a result, the resident population of Haa Dhaal Atoll is decreasing every year causing it harder to compete with other atolls on bringing development projects to many Islands that are in desperate need.

Higher standard of living and earning a decent income while working within the atoll is something we all dream of. The main sector that offer a decent and reliable income for people is Civil Service but this represents a small proportion of our population. At present, we have determined working people in fisheries and agricultural sector. However, their work is generally confined within the atoll as they do not have the necessary mechanism or the incentives to expand their work. In addition to this, inability to move their products between islands and low demand due to low resident population have caused them to settle for an income that barely meets their financial needs. The stagnated state of these activities have led to low income from fisheries and agricultural sector.

The state of our local economy is a great concern for the people of Haa Dhaal Atoll. More importantly, the absence of tourism industry within this atoll has become a major barrier for economic and social development. For instance, in many cases, men are having to work away from home for most of the time, leaving their responsibilities as the head of the family towomen who are increasingly being burdened with double responsibilities. This puts a lot of stress on both partners which leads to undesirable family issues. Similarly, young people are another particularly disadvantaged group within our atoll as a result of lack of employment opportunities. Unemployment is one of the main reasons behind the increasing rates of crime among the youth. This dire situation in our atoll is tearing up the social fabric of our society.

It has been over 40 years since the tourism industry flourished in Maldives. However, the atoll with approximately 20,000 people has not yet got the opportunity to enjoy the economic benefits of this sector. In fact, Haa Dhaal Atoll is the only atoll in Maldives that does not have an operational resort. We do understand that three of our islands have been given for resort development but it has been over 12 years without any of them being opened for tourists. This has cost 2,000 jobs that was promised for us with these resorts. Furthermore, some of our uninhabited islands have been leased for agricultural purposes.Sadly, even these agricultural projects have failed in creating enough employment opportunities for residents of this atoll.

We have waited long enough to enjoy the success and development that tourism industry has brought to other regions of the Maldives. We want the people of Haa Dhaal Atoll to have the convenience of working in resorts within this atoll without having to move to other regions.

We believe that development of resorts in our pristine uninhabited islands is the key to improve our income, hence improve our standard of living and to bring the mass migration to halt. This will not only allow us to have an equal participation in tourism industry but also pave the way for further development of this industry. Furthermore, creation of a more vibrant local economy will allow our fishermen and farmers to thrive and expand their work.

Hence, on behalf of all the people from Haa Dhaal Atoll, we humbly ask the government not to exclude us from this prosperous and growing industry. We urge the government to give the utmost importance to solve the issue of income disparity caused by uneven development of tourism industry in Maldivian atolls. Further, we urge the government to open up more islands for resort development in Haa Dhaal Atoll.

History will vouch for the courage of people from “Bodu Thiladhunmathi”. We are proud of our ancestors and we learn from their lessons. We seek courage from their strength and in honor of them, we will stand up in unity to bring the benefits of tourism industry within our reach.

So dear people of Haa Dhaal Atoll,

We ask on behalf of everyone of this atoll to sign this petition. The purpose of this petition is to deliver our concerns, hopes and wishes to the government. We hope the petition will make the government aware of the current economic and social situation in Haa Dhaal Atoll. We want to express our interest in being a part of the industry that generate the highest income for this country. We are here to fight for the development of our atoll and In Sha Allah this will become true in the near future!

Tholhendhoo Ruins:

How does an abandoned island look after 22 years? Here are some pics of Tholhendhoo which was abandoned in 1992 and the people of the island moved to nearby Kendhidulhudhoo. The island itself was a small beautiful island which didn’t have a calm safe lagoon which made it very difficult for the islanders to engage in fishing or sea transport.

Its autumn in Tholhendhoo. The haunting image of the main road of the island after 22 years of quietness.

Here is the island now; trees have grown up and erased all signs of past human habitation. Only a small area with a few roofs remains to show the history of the island.

Tholhendhoo (right) people migrated to their much big brother island nearby which is kendhikulhudhoo

The biggest tree in the island.

The ruins of the island pre-school.

The island office, once symbol of authority,

One last pic a villager took of his home before emigrating to new life in Kendhikulhudhoo

The farewell ceremony of the island was attended by by the then president Maumoon.

From a distance the beaches of the island are the same as any other island, but Tholhendhoo has a history.

Sherton Full Moon workers on strike over low service charge

Local workers of Sheraton have stopped work and are on strike citing service unbelievably low charge, discrimination against workers and nepotism. According to one worker in the island, the service charge has been around an unimpressive 600$ for most of the year including in the high season. This is in contrast to $2k and above in Kihaava Villas and other top resorts in the country. It’s strange that big brands like Sheraton could have got things so wrong in the middle of high season when everywhere resort workers are expected to earn substantial incomes. One worker opined that the resort feels immune from pressure because of the strong connections to the resort owners (Universal Group) with the ruling class.

Gaakoshibee to be the first Islamic resort in Maldives.

The resort being developed by ADK group is about 70% complete and will be the newest and the biggest in Maldives. Once complete Gaakoshibee will have 673 rooms and would have cost 170 million dollars to the main investor Caprice Gold of Turkey. The project for the island has started in 2007 and gone through several plans and investors and this hopefully will be the last twist in the story till the island opens. The island is located in Shaviyani atoll in the north and will be 50 minutes from sea plane from Male airport. The resort will have an Islamic concept of tourism with separate secluded beach for ladies only, pool villas for couples and certified halal buffet from all the restaurants. The island will not sell any alcohol and will be family friendly.

Although we have several middle eastern tourists arriving in Maldives including royalties from Gulf states, a resort island for the Muslim tourist has been wanting for some time.

Source:

http://www.haveeru.com.mv/dhivehi/business/149242

Image credits:

http://www.gadarchitecture.com/maldives-gadakoshibee-project-details-1,5,100112

http://www.borneobenar.com/construction.html#prettyPhoto[gallery5]/0/

Workers strike in One and Only Reethi Rah

A workers strike has been going on in one and only Reethi Rah for more than one day and it appears that the employer has again taken the weary route of resorting to ask help from ‘higher’ authorities rather than engaging with the workers. A report on Mvyouth claims that as of 0300 today, the resort has refused to meet with the representatives of the workers to negotiate their demands. Police teams have been send to dissuade the staff from protesting and it appears that staff have been given ultimatum to stop the demo as of today. The demands are as usual about salary, discrimination, poor accommodation etc. The number of workers who joined the protest is about 200.

It’s amazing how big employers like One and Only cannot manage simple demands like better food and accommodation and every so often strikes springs up in Reethi Rah.

Dusit Thani Maldives: heart to heart review by staff

Dusit Thani Maldives
Dusit Thani Maldives

One of the newest brands to Maldives, Dusit Thani Maldives is a popular resort according to many reviews in TripAdvisor. Among the many endearing terms used in the review these terms stand out. Helpful people, eco-friendly resort, top notch service, prestigious resort… After every review in TripAdvisor there appears a thanking little message by GM of the resort thanking for the review.
For lack of a similar service where staff can rate their employer, we had to ask about from our friends in the resort to give us an honest, heart to heart review of the resort, and what we got is not amusing at all. Here is one review by a trustworthy source about the resort:

The resort has recently decided to drastically cut down on benefits for staff and is currently in the process for terminating 60 local staff. That’s almost half of the total employees whose agreements will not be renewed. While most of the resorts goes to great lengths to keep their longer serving staff in the island, this looks like a departure from that trend. RNR (Rest and Relax 1 or 2 week extra paid leaves given to manager level persons) will be restricted only to a handful top managers. Around 70 local regular staff has been kept in limbo without permanent work agreements (used as casual workers; mostly this is the case for expatriate laborers in other resorts). Laundry, stewarding, gardening and landscaping, powerhouse, pest control, and public area cleaning services are going to be outsourced. Staff will not be able to plan their holidays or accumulate pending off days or lieu days for public holidays when going on annual vacation. This is allowed and hassle-free in most resorts. Most of the staff who worked in the pre-opening team are being terminated for flimsy and sometimes made-up reasons by their superiors who joined later. The resort Financial Controller is reported to have said that service charge for local staff shall be capped at 250$ per month irrespective of occupancy. Many local staff have been threatened with summary dismissal for minor reasons. There are only 3 locals in management level which is very low compared to other resorts. It seems the management is not willing to listen to any complaints or suggestions; and staffs have been dismissed for revealing these grievances in meetings with GM. Despite these negatives, the staff believe it has more to do with the individual temperaments of the managers themselves than company policy, which is making the resorts appeal less to local talent.

Our assessment: overall this is a good employer which has to do some serious housekeeping work to make sure from the management side, things are as it should be. Frequently what would happen is resorts are part of bigger chain of hotels and local management is assumed to be in order from corporate office if the monthly figures look ok. But there is always room for improvement and if half of those on the payroll are to be replaced in a year, then there indeed is cause for alarm. As for employing local workers wherever possible, this should be included in the Corporate Social Responsibility agenda and followed through to execution especially considering the high level of unemployment in the host country and the potential for conflict which will ensue.

Madoogali and Velidhoo Island fined for breach of standards

Madoogali Resort and Spa, and Velidhoo Island Resorts have been fined 1000000 Rf and given a month’s notice to resolve health and safety problems.

A letter from the Ministry of Tourism states that resort does not have a proper garbage disposal mechanism, lacks can crushers, glass crushers, balers and shredders. The letter also states that the accommodation and catering facilities provided to the resort staffs are below regulation standards.

A Ministry official stated that the resort operator has been repeatedly asked to resolve health and safety issues since 2011.

Also, the official stated that they are currently investigation allegations against the resort management regarding Service Charge Taxes.

The Tourism Ministry has reportedly forwarded the case to the Prosecutor General’s office.

On reflection it can be said that it’s just stupid to run high end resorts and not spend on upkeep of the hotel. Another point is that although the law mandates resorts to have incinerators, compactors, bottle crushers; one very crucial element of the recycling idea is missing. It’s the buyers who will take the compacted cans, paper bales and use them to actually recycle something out of it. As long as we are burning or throwing things which can be recycled, we are just wasting resources.

On the positive side, it’s a good thing that the ministry appears to be getting tough on standards.

Eid Mubarak! It doesn’t get any better than this.

The picture depicts S. Meedhoo residents praying Eid prayer yesterday. The whole island men, women, children, strangers all gathered to pray eid in the beautiful morning in the island football ground. The prayer is a simple sermon admonishing people to do good and avoid evil. This is a welcome break from months of politicking and everyone enjoys a communal day of well wishing and befriending again after being glued to tv for some time. After the prayer, usually the youths will participate in a football match and girls will do a bashi (like tennis) match. The younger ones also get their own function with kiddies games arranged usually by everyone. Usually on Eid the senior folks walk from house to house chit chatting and enjoying each other’s hospitality till sunset. Its times like this when people realize how beautiful island life can be.

Fake demos cost travel advisories against the country

Basically it happens like this. The country is highly polarized with people pro and against controversial former president Anni. Approximately a little bit less than half of the population supports him while the rest are split between what could be termed as royalists (PPM) and progressives (JP coalition). So we have 3 major political thinking at the moment. The current hullabaloo about the case before Supreme Court is just a technical legal process which has to be completed whoever runs the show. There are many issues in the whole story including the personal lifestyle of a Supreme Court judge and the quality of evidence JP submitted against the first round of presidential elections. To summarize the whole story, it may be safely said that politicians are encouraging disruptive behavior by calling for tourism boycotts which are usually followed by unsuspecting politically naïve followers.

In resorts the political wheeling and dealing are enthusiastically followed by resort workers who discuss the finer points of the days happening after duty hours normally in the staff gym or cafeteria. There is great camaraderie and honest heart to heart discussions sometimes quite heated. To make for a party atmosphere soft drink cases are usually bought from staff shop and enemies and friends enjoy political toast to their political masters in Male’. Usually somewhere in the discussion the idea to capture the moment and share in social media occurs to somebody and is carried out.

From there on the evil political masters take over and twist the story to their advantage and start frantic anti campaigns against the country.

To make the story go viral they even include Iran and Syria as well in the hash tags to get attention to the story.

The damage has already been done. What started as a light hearted talk was quite successfully turned to something more sinister. Travel advisory against the country has already been issued from 5 countries and more are to follow. Those who are calling for tourism boycott against the country are the true enemies of the country. Tourism can make or break this country and no sane person with a cool mind will call for self destruction. If this was about a single hotelier abusing the staff or something similar, a strike can be justified. But we have at the moment is no strikes and irresponsible hot-headed politicos inviting maximum damage to the country. It’s sad that TEAM the biggest organization representing tourism workers also appears to support boycott of tourism forgetting that more than half of those who work in resorts are not going to support their political view. TEAM shall be more neutral and be support of all political views to succeed in the long term. Whichever party comes to power, a self damaged economy would be the most difficult wound to heal.