A few years ago I was asked by a certain well known ‘responsible’ travel company to provide suggestions for ‘responsible’ product in the Maldives that we could market through their site. It was totally impossible.
I did a fair bit of research and everything I discovered re-enforced the impression I had from visiting many resorts in the Maldives: there was not a single resort which deserved to be sold under the ‘responsible’ label. The trickle down effect was almost completely nonexistent, the rubbish disposal and energy generation was dubious, to say the least, and as for all those seaplanes… In fairness, you couldn’t blame specific resorts or hotel companies (though I am sure some deserved it) – the repressive Government and it’s rigid policy of social control and enrichment of their cronies would have made it impossible even if the company was willing.
As a side note, while I reluctantly told them I could not suggest anything that would be suitable, I was dismissed by the company involved and the Maldives appeared soon after supplied by someone else. Ah well, business is business I suppose…
However, my point is that this might be changing in a very fundamental and exciting way. Following last years first, ever democratic election in the Maldives, the new president, Mohamed Nasheed, made some exciting noises about making The Maldives a carbon neutral country – the first in the world. As an extremely low lying set archipelago, the Maldives had long recognised that they would be the first to disappear when sea levels rose but he makes the point that they better get their own house in order before complaining about the rest of the world.
In terms of tourism, there are no details as yet released, but we have heard of some really exciting and ground-breaking work afoot, to bring the beauty of the Maldives and their future into some kind of harmony. We know there is already massive strides being taken in making the country a freer and fairer place to live for the average citizen and that obviously involves their biggest industry – tourism.