“Outdated” safety regulations in hotels and resorts need to be modernised, a minister says following deaths from fire or drowning.
An unusual series of deaths of tourists in the Maldives has prompted the popular travel destination’s government to review safety standards and increase accommodation inspections, TTG Asia reports.
In December and January alone, six tourist deaths were reported, as were fires at five resorts. Most of the deaths were by fire or drowning.
At least five of the tourists died in a single week in January, compared to 71 reported deaths for the whole of 2017.
“We have decided to inspect all tourist facilities in the Maldives in the next six to eight months,” tourism minister Ali Waheed declared.
“Regular monitoring must be done to ensure that regulations are followed. Some of these regulations are very outdated. They need to be modernised.”
On the advice of the president himself, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, who took office in November replacing the previous regime, a committee has been formed to address concerns and review regulations on operating resorts, guesthouses, travel agencies, water sports and fire safety.
Winds and currents
Stronger currents around the islands may be to blame for some of the incidents, travel and hospitality players claim. The Guesthouse Association of the Maldives has warned members to stay vigilant about these water currents.
“In recent times I have noticed resorts placing warnings boards and depth of the water on beaches, but [no staff members are supervising] as guests like to have their privacy on the beach,” Abdul Karam, the association’s president, says.
In October, three water villas were damaged in a fire at Adaaran Hudhurafushi, and at another resort a fire last month tore through seven water villas, a restaurant and a kitchen.
The cause of the fires has not been determined and the resorts themselves have declined to comment, but Karam suggests that strong winds could have accelerated the spread of the flames to adjacent villas.