The article published in Tourism Watch. To read the full article click link at end
In the Maldives, the tourism industry is touted as the goose that lays golden eggs. According to the World Bank, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita ballooned from 600 USD in 1985 to over 9,000 USD by 2017. The nation graduated from one of the 20 poorest countries in the world in 1980 to a middle income country by 2017. A quarter of the overall GDP comes from tourism. While the country got rich, the majority of the population got poor in comparison. Centralization policies and the excessive tourism development on uninhabited islands benefit only a chosen few.
Centralization on Male’
The Maldives consists of more than 1200 islands - 188 of them are inhabited – stretching over more than 750 kilometers. Fifty years ago, inhabitants of the islands in the north and south were living a prosperous life based on agriculture and fishing. Raw materials for agricultural products were collected from forest areas of inhabited islands as well as uninhabited islands nearby. Direct trade with neighboring countries flourished. Common goods exported included coir rope, coconut, and other agricultural products as well as value added items made from fish, such as dried or salted fish. However, halting of direct trading activities from various islands to foreign countries due to centralization of commerce and transport in Male caused decline of local agriculture and fish processing based on a vibrant small holder industry, leading to loss of livelihoods – particularly for women and youth. read more