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.
Fighting with terrorists in paradise must be a complicated thing because as a general rule, terrorists and paradise shall not mix: terrorists are destined not for paradise but for hell.
Coming across a piece of bad journalism on these same lines, we felt the need to comment on the story as the essay tries to give the impression that our beautiful islands are in danger of being occupied by terrorists- which needless to say is solid fantasy.
First of all, the essay printed in the-diplomat.com doesn’t seem to have been prompted by any new development in the tourism sector in the Maldives or anywhere else in the country. The essay simply revises some old news from 2007 to match the words to the heading of the story. The heading of the story contains the desired wordings to attract the most amount of traffic from search engines which is the goal of all news outlets. But just coming out of the blue and saying Maldives is fighting terror in paradise for no other reason than making a sensational story, is the culminating point of bad journalism! Nobody can beat this!
However the circumstances of our time is such that fantasy and drama sells and truth can always take a backstage. 😦
Our sources in Villa Hotels tells us that the Villa Group of hotels, Sun Island, Paradise island, Holiday Island and Royal Island are to resume paying service charges to staff effective from this month. Initially service charge is expected to be fixed at 1000rf per staff (service charge “fixing” is illegal under the law!) per month and the resort is said to be in talks with tour operators to levy the service charge from accommodation which would significantly increase the service charge value. Villa Group resorts have sold blocks of rooms on allocations to various many tour operators under contract and renegotiating the contract according to the resort is not an option. So the group is reported to be trying to insert this issue whenever new contracts are signed with room allocation arrangements.
However as the group tries to induct new competent talent in to the resort, they are finding it increasingly difficult because of the service charge issue. Currently Villa group resorts are said to be in the budget holiday category hence life is hectic on these resorts with guests coming in sizable hordes and leaving in a similar fashion each day. The advantage for resort staff in these islands seems to be proximity to Male’ and ease of transportation which is one key demand of local staff who have families in Male’ and in neighboring islands. Staff retention rates are high in Villa Group resorts exactly for causes like this despite the hiatus in service charge, closer to a year now.