The Maldives has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in recent years, drawing droves of tourists from all over the world to its island paradise. This trend has been continuing despite recent political changes that have been underway on the islands.
The Maldives, the smallest country in Asia in population and land area, is made up of a number of 1,192 islands and situated in the Indian Ocean. Due to its geographical location, the islands were heavily affected by the 2004 tsunami which presented the government with further political and economic challenges. The success and growth of the tourism industry on the islands has helped the nation to overcome these challenges.
The Maldives has recently undergone political changes in their endeavor to turn a theocracy into a democratic state. It has been rather challenging for president Nasheed to strengthen democracy and increase media freedom because he has been facing strong resistance from some of the opposition parties within the country. Due to the major role tourism plays here, the state ensures that the situation will be stable enough to maintain the high flow of tourists to the islands. Furthermore, the states understanding of the importance of the tourism industry, does not allow political challenges or upheaval to have any influence on the tourism industry, which is primarily managed by foreign investors.
Tourism has transformed the economy of the Maldives and allowed it to be less dependent on its fishing industry. The state increased the number of resorts from 2 to 95 and dedicated many of the islands to agriculture and tourism, leaving 185 to the native population of the country. Indeed, the state strove to promote its efforts to foreign tourists. Visitors aren’t required for example, to apply for a visa prior to their arrival on the islands, regardless of their nationality the are welcome, all they need is a valid passport, sufficient funds and proof of travel.
Picture: Jim Crocker/ flickr.com