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Maldives: Next Location For Ecotourists
With the shift in the market towards more conscious travelling and tourism, the Maldives has reacted in kind, creating innovative ways to encourage sustainable tourism, not just within the resorts but also in its guest experience. Maldives is quickly becoming a leader in eco-friendly and sustainable tourism
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What is sustainable and ecotourism?
Sustainable tourism, according to the United Nations Environment programmes, includes economic, social and environmental impact and concerns. It asks for the industry, government and visitors to take responsibility and accountability for the host community needs and concerns. Sustainable is not specific to any type of tourism but aims to have all forms of tourism be sustainable.
Ecotourism is a segment of tourism that is focused on the ecological conservation and creating awareness among travelers on the their natural surrounding.
Why this a concern in the maldives?
Tourism is one of the largest businesses for the Maldives, contributing to the nation’s foreign exchange revenue and a huge sector of employment in the island. The isolated islands, following the one-island-one-resort concept makes for the ideal luxury travel destinations.
As an island nation, the Maldives becomes susceptible to rising sea level, depletion in fresh water resources and pollution in its surrounding ocean.
Common practices that can be found in the resorts
Over the last few years and especially following the Covid-19 pandemic, the islands have taken stronger measures to actively promote sustainable ecotourism. Most islands becoming 100 per cent plastic free.
“We have recently installed a composter to turn our kitchen scraps into fertilizers for our landscape and gardening plus to reduce landfill waste. We have also stopped using plastics in our resorts. Only glass bottles are used in our restaurants and guest villas. We have also stopped using plastic straws and have replaced it with bio straws,” explains Manoharan Mannarlingam, Area General Manager, Noku Maldives. Providing reusable water bottles to tourists, replacing plastic containers with paper boxes, paper menus and tablets used in restaurants.
Hydroponic Garden can also be found on islands, where a large portion of salad greens and herbs are grown.
What are some experiences that tourists can take part in?
Adding to the many water activities the islands offer such as snorkelling, surfing, diving, etc. Resorts are taking an extra step to create awareness on environmental issues and creating experiences for tourists to appreciate the the natural environment, economic and social issues in a manner that adds to the tourist enhances the tourist experience.
“We offer our guests an enriching experience that brings them close to nature and keeps them engaged with our advocacy,” states Ibrahim Ali, Executive Resident Manager, Kuramathi Island Resort. Kuramathi, one of the larger island resorts, is home to a 300-year-old Bunyan tree on the path of its popular ‘Botanic Walk’. The island also has a ‘Nature Trail’ and ‘Hermit Crab Walk’ where visitors can take a leisure stroll and appreciate its natural beauty and even spot hermit crabs. Every plant and tree comes with its information card for the curious traveller.
The resort also runs an Eco Center, run by their resident Marine Biologist, conducting information sessions about marine life and collaborating with Environmental Committees in furthering environmental policies and objectives.
The Residence offers an ‘Earth Basket’ programme - an integrated experience, where guests can participate in workshops in the farm to culinary master-classes with the hotel’s chef, using ingredients grown on the island and in the hydroponic gardens to learn about sustainable living.
“The trend is moving towards sustainable tourism and what we are doing for the environment,” explains M Sundaram, General Manager, The Residence Maldives Falhumaafushi & Dhigurah. Making Maldivian resorts the next destination for the conscious traveller, who is mindful and aware of their impact on thei natural environment.