Maldives to deploy tourist scouts to ensure safety

Maldives government has announced plans to deploy tourist scouts across the island nation from January 2020, in a bid to strengthen the safety of holidaymakers visiting the popular tourist destination.

Tourism minister Ali Waheed told journalists last week that the government had begun training tourist scouts, with the training programme expected to be completed within the year.

Under this joint initiative by the tourism ministry and local island councils, lifeguards trained in water safety will be dispatched to islands identified by the ministry. The first phase of the project will introduce 50 lifeguards to 19 islands.

“The programme will be introduced to all parts of the country, but initially tourist scouts will be located in islands which are deemed to be incident prone,” Waheed said.

Tourism is the economic mainstay of the Maldives, and the industry caters to a predominantly high-end clientele. The setup of this industry is unique in several ways; the concept of ‘one island, one resort,’ and the geographical distance between the resorts all present security and safety opportunities and challenges.

Tourism security and tourist safety, especially in a setting like in the Maldives, requires a deep understanding of the natural environment, the requirements of the industry, a thorough appreciation of the potential threats, and consideration for the privacy of the guests and the ambience within the resorts.

Security and safety measures related to complementary industries such as aviation and transport also play an important role in addressing the issue holistically.

Drowning is a rare occurrence amongst tourists in the Maldives. However, an increase in the number of drownings over the past year has alarmed authorities as well as tourist establishments across the archipelago.

Maldives, known world over for its upmarket tourism industry, has resorts in the hundreds spread across the archipelago. The industry has in recent years expanded to introduce more affordable segments, including guesthouses and liveaboards. Some 500 guesthouses have come into operation over the past decade, as the number of travellers that choose to stay in guesthouses record exponential growth.

Photo: Kurumba Maldives

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