VANILLA ISLANDS TO BENEFIT FROM MALDIVES BLUNDER
A regular source from Mauritius, one of the Vanilla Islands in the African part of the Indian Ocean the others being Seychelles, La Reunion, Madagascar and the Comoros Islands has, albeit reluctantly and on condition of strict confidentiality and anonymity commented on the most recent developments reported from the Maldives, where hardline Islamic opposition groups have forced the government to shut down all Spas in the luxurious beach resorts across the islands.
Personally, I think every country has the right to determine their own internal affairs but this was a short sighted knee jerk reaction. If they are closing down the Spas which are nowadays synonymous with the level of vacation luxuries tourists expect, it will kill jobs, not just in the Spas but for the entire tourism sector. Tourists will feel and think that is only the start, next will be that wine and spirits will be banned or bikinis prohibited at the beaches and the pools of the women be forced to cover their hair with scarves. I expect a swift shift from the Maldives resorts to our resorts in Mauritius, or in the Seychelles once these devastating news begin to circulate amongst travelers and tour operators. Some visitors already booked might even force a free charge change of destination because this is a major negative shift in their destinations reliability and contracted values and facilities. I think the Seychellois have in their hospitality school just introduced courses for Spa management and operations and across the Vanilla Islands Spas now form an important part of guests having a holiday of a lifetime. Let it be known that we are open for business any time and would welcome guests who feel they are being used as a political football in the Maldives. We do not wish bad to our colleagues in the Maldives tourism industry but they need to stand up and get this reversed or else they know they are facing a bad downturn amidst very bad publicity. No one wants to visit a place where radicals of that sort have the say and make decisions of such nature at the blink of an eye.
Other sources from across the Indian Ocean islands were, in view of being the New Years weekend, not available for comment but are thought to harbour similar sentiments; neither could major international resort operators be reached for comment who have properties on the Maldives and who will undoubtedly be affected greatly by this political dictate. Watch this space.