- It doesn’t hold water legally according to former attorney general and renowned lawyer Husnu Suood. A spa or any place of legal business can be ordered to stop their business if evidence was discovered which implicates criminal intent. However closing all such businesses for the crime of one establishment is beyond comprehension.
- No resort has complied thankfully and hoteliers are aware about the political nature of the dictate The government’s line that this was a measure they are taking to address the demand of the big-demo on 23rd December 2011 is also not consistent as no similar dictate has been issued to remove the commemorative idols and statutes of the SAARC summit in Addu.
- One of the five demands of the big demo protesters was to close places of prostitution in Male’ which goes by names such as ‘spas’ , ‘beauty saloons’ , ‘ayuverdha clinics’ etc. There was no mention of high end spas in resorts.
- Tourism minister Zulfa’s assertion that spa’s will be reopened once the people support moderate Islam is also inconsistent with her mandate. This presupposition of people’s belief shall not be normal subject matter for a minister to decide. Peoples belief are their own and the fact is that the paranoia about Islamic extremism has been blown out of all proportions for political reasons.
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.