Sustainable Tourism at Maldives
Maldives is increasingly becoming a tourist destination of preference for many, and without a proper approach to activities around tourism, the high demand could have potentially damaging outcomes to the nation’s delicate ecosystem, bearing in mind that a green and clean environment are the country’s top selling points. Most of the Maldivian islands are a home to palatial accommodations and luxurious holiday resorts, and this highlights the increasing tourism activities in these areas calling for the need to focus on sustainable tourism (De-Miguel-Molina & Rumiche-Sosa, 2011). All stakeholders to a tourist destination have a responsibility to put forth sufficient plans for development towards addressing the environmental, economic and social functions of the sector, and anything short of this would be counterproductive since it leaves grounds for failure as it posits an environment that devoid of adequate mechanisms to deal with negative effects postulated by market forces, catastrophic events and visitors (Wu, 2013).
There exist a complex interplay between social, economic and environmental elements of tourism, and the as Brundland(1987) alludes, the persistent neglect of the inseparability of these concepts would culminate to an error by the global community. Often, an imbalance between these elements occurs when the tourism industry seeks to perpetuate its own interest at the expense of the broader community. The intricate balance between resource limits and usage calls for a well-structured approach through monitoring and planning of tourism activities. Stakeholders have to think long-term if the antecedents behind sustainable tourism are anything to go by since change always takes a cumulative, gradual and irreversible path. The social, economic and environmental, sustainable tourism must take into account the interests of different stakeholders such as visitors, local communities, the government and the industry as a whole.
These parties must be ready to give and take to cultivate a win-win scenario. Addressing issues pertaining to sustainable tourism can take shape through policies, practices and initiates that factor in the input of all stakeholders during the designing and implementation steps. The second phase which ran between 1979 to 1988, saw the sector realize subtle improvements in the mode of transport and as well, foreign investors came in to take advantage of the increasing tourist numbers. The third phase was marked by an increase in the number of resorts that came up to accommodate more tourist (Government of the Maldives. , 2014a). AS tourism activities gained momentum, technology led to innovative services. Further, more resorts came to play, spas and safari boats came into the scene.
Different players in the tourism industry are required by the law to use incinerators to ensure low volumes of organic waste discarded to the environment. Further, there exists a prohibition in plastic waste combustion to avoid toxic emissions (Ministry of Tourism, 2015). Companies producing glass waste are required to use a crasser to process glass bottles. The Maldives government is also committed to the principles stipulated in bilateral and multilateral protocols that guide the process of waste management and climate change. For example, Maldives is a party to the Kyoto protocol that was modified by the Doha Amendment. The Maldives government has committed itself to a policy framework that ensures solid waste management is a top priority. Maldives strives to achieve this end by putting forth a coordinated effort that brings together communities and institution, leading to an integrated waste management system.
This approach has seen the government secure community commitment towards the implementation of the integrated solid waste management plan. Private investors such as Kuramathi resort employs technology to innovatively manage its solid waste. A case in point is the in-vessel aerobic composting technology that forms the resorts pre-composting unit, and it is used to accelerate the waste decomposition process. The tourism industry players such as the government, island communities, resorts, boat owners, waste destination managers must come together during policy construction, monitoring the development of guidelines and regulations that impact on the tourism industry (Haddock-Fraser & Hampton, 2012). The need for stakeholder engagement is highlighted by the gaps realized in the current system. For example, some resorts have the feeling that Thilafushi option was a wrong idea that fails to address sustainable development in the tourism sector.
This has prompted such resorts to adopt self-sufficient mechanisms in waste management. The resorts take it as their responsibility to assimilate sustainable and environmentally friendly methods, that would enable them to capture Maldives as a premium vacation tourist destination that is environmentally sensitive (Garrido, 2014). Endangered Wildlife Species and Ecotourism Maldives marine ecosystem is on the verge of destruction and extinction owing to factors such as overexploitation, climate change, and coral bleaching among others. Any tourism activities that fail to consider biodiversity are no better since they threaten the existence of ecological zones such as reef system, island system, mangroves, and wetlands (Atoll Ecosystem Conservation, 2013). Irresponsible practices such as discarding of waste and untreated waste stand on the way to conserve Maldives biodiversity.
Sustainable tourism calls for the need to leverage on the opportunities that come with wildlife while at the same time protecting biodiversity. Tourists can take part in wildlife conservation by accommodating them in different initiatives geared towards protecting biodiversity as well as building capacities for island communities to induce their optimal participation in conservation activities (Shabbir, 2016). The lack of biodiversity database makes it a challenge to track the trends, status, and gains in thematic areas. Several Maldivian-owned facilities have in been utilizing energy efficient means over and above generating their own electricity. Soneva Gili restaurant takes the initiative to source its own water and also manages its own waste management center (Thompson, 2013). Soneva Gill recognizes the fragility of the environment in which they operate, and as such, the resort’s operations are engrained in responsible tourism.
The hotel has been in the front line to improve the livelihood of island communities and the environment. The tour groups believe that the smaller the number of visitors, the higher the possibility to reduce the adverse effect on the environment and coral reefs. Maldives government through the tourism ministry has also taken the initiative to regulate the number of resorts per an island (Ministry of Tourism, 2015). The ministry only allows 2 storey high resorts per island and only 20% of island space to accommodate buildings, and this has been critical towards minimizing the number of people per island, leading to reduced negative environmental impact. Conclusion The Maldives economy is dependent on tourism, and thus, it remains imperative for all private and public entities taking part in the tourism sector to act in a way that facilitates long-term viability.
Any form of irresponsible behavior such as overexploitation of resources and failure to take care of the natural environment. This can take shape through setting requirements and regulations that each resort and tour company should take before been licensed to carry out tourist activities. For example, each visitor should be encouraged to avoid behaviors that threaten the environment such as the use of plastic water bottles and discarding non-biodegradable waste in the sea. This message should be clearly captured in the resorts websites as well as the ministry of tourism promotional activities. Incentives such as tax cuts should be in place to encourage resorts to practice sustainable tourism. The implication would be a lower cost of operation to the hotels, an advantage that they would transfer to visitors.
This can gain justification through a close look at the inadequacies in Environmental Impact Assessment processes. As postulated by Zubiar, Bowen, and Elwin(2010), the system is devoid of accountability, transparency, and responsiveness. As much as the Maldives government clearly stipulates the goals it intends to achieve, which include, to regulate any form of conflict due to competing parties in the tourism industry, and on the process ensure a balance between resource use and conservation, offer clear guidelines on island selection for resort development, and reduce climate change-related aspects among others, much needs to be done. It is important for the government to align the above goals to the EIAs objectives. This would offer a platform from which public and private entities can become more accountable to the needs of sustainable tourism (Zubair, et al.
[Online] Available at: https://cmsdata. iucn. org/downloads/the_economic_case_for_biodiversity_in_the_maldives_1. pdf Chan, J. Building sustainable tourism destination and developing responsible tourism: conceptual framework, key issues and challenges. Maldives tourism trash problem. [Online] Available at: https://loyaltytraveler. boardingarea. com/2014/10/01/maldives-tourism-trash-problem/ Government of the Maldives. , 2014a. Medina, M. Managing Wastes In Paradise. BioCycle, 53(10), pp. Ministry of Housing and Environment, 2015. Maldives National Report to the Convention on Biological Diversity, s. & Benli, B. The impact of tourism: How can we all do this better?. [Online] Available at: https://blogs. worldbank. org/psd/health/impact-tourism-how-can-we-all-do-better Pineda, F. [Online] Available at: http://journals. sjp. ac. lk/index. php/fesympo/article/view/3117 Tahiri, A. thetravelword. com/2013/06/17/sustainable-development-and-ecotourism-in-maldives/ UNESCO, 2016. Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable Future a Multimedia Teacher Education Program.
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