This paper examines the role of tourism in the economy of Maldives in order to recommend specific programs that promote sustainable development. In this light, this paper begins with a general overview of Maldives by emphasizing on its geographical features, and the unique culture of the Maldivian people. After this, an intensive look at the economy of Maldives is done by crucially studying its top three sectors: tourism, construction, and fisheries. Then, the discussion is narrowed down on tourism by having an in-depth look at current tourism statistics, current market segments, and major products and services. This part is closely linked at an analysis of the positive and negative impacts of tourism on the economy and environment of Maldives. This paper concludes with a presentation of specific programs that can be used to promote sustainable development in Maldives.
The Republic of Maldives is an archipelago that is consisted of 26 coral atolls, located in the northern Indian Ocean. It is comprised of 1,190 islands, and 200 from which are inhabited (Maldives Marketing & Public Relations Corporation, 2009). Its capital island is called Male’. Its climate is warm and tropical, and seasonal changes are determined by the two yearly monsoons—the northeast monsoon and the southwest monsoon (Corporate Travels and Tours, 2011).
The Maldives has a population of approximately 350,000. Its type of government is Independent Republic, while its primary religion is Islam. The currency used in this country is Rufiyaa (1 USD = MRF 15.42). B. People and Culture The culture in the Maldives is tightly linked with the geographical features of the country. As claimed by Red Dot (2009), the physical features of the Maldivian people differ from one atoll to the other, attributing to the genes passed on by South and Southeast Asians, Africans, and Arabs. It can be said that this racial mix has also marked the differences in the Maldivian people’s language, beliefs, and sub-cultures (Countries and their Culture, 2012). The mixing of cultures is evident in the Maldivian arts and craftsmanship. For one, the musical instrument used by Maldivian people called bodu-beru (big drum) resembles that of common African drums. Also, the dhoni is a unique Maldivian sailboat that has an overall design similar to the dow of Arabian countries. Last, the fine artistry behind the wooden beams in Maldivian antique mosques can be attributed to the architecture in Southeast Asian countries. Maldivians are known for their adaptation skills and positive outlook in life. They are generally cheerful, welcoming, and hospitable. In terms of their belief system, Maldivians still appreciate the upholding of unity and oneness in faith, but modernism has delivered a whole new culture with new sets of ideas and attitudes to the people. II. Maldives: Economy According to United States Virtual Presence Post or USVPP (2012), the economy of Maldives is based primarily on tourism and fishing. However, the other key sectors of Maldivian economy are construction, distribution, telecommunications, shipping, aviation, and banking support. A. Background on Economy The Maldives has achieved substantial economic growth over the last several decades (USVPP, 2012). In 2009, the country attained the highest GDP at around $1.3 billion, which is about $4,300 per capita. Tourism, the primary contributor of GDP, remained relatively strong due to the increase in tourist visits as evidenced by the growth in total bed-nights (The World Bank, 2011). However, it was also in 2009 when Maldivian economy shrank by 4 percent. Indeed, as USVPP (2012) further asserted, the fall in tourist arrivals, external financial, and product exports were all contributed by the global economic crisis that severely hit the country during that year As