Maldives luxury resorts face ban on spas after Muslim protest
Luxury spas in the Maldives archipelago along with massage parlours in places like the capital Male must close, the government ordered on Saturday, bowing to pressure from opposition parties bidding to “defend Islam” in a move that may imperil the mainstay tourism sector.
Pristine white sand beaches and turquoise waters attract honeymooners and celebrities from around the world to the Indian Ocean nation, pumping in $1.5 billion to the economy, or 30 percent of GDP, annually by travellers willing to spend as much as $1,000 a night at hideaway resorts.
The country’s president issued the decree, saying the idea came from opposition parties who claimed widespread sales of pork and alcohol in the mainly Sunni Muslim nation of more than 1,200 atolls housing a population of 400,000 were offensive.
“The government has decided to close massage parlors and spas in the Maldives, following an opposition-led religious protest last week calling for their closure,” President Mohamed Nasheed’s office said in a statement.
For more background, see the following reports from the Maldives website Haveeru Online:
No more actions to take over demands: Zuhair Jan 02, 2012
Maldives ‘considering’ ban of alcohol, porkDec 28, 2011
‘People want traditional form of Islam’Dec 24, 2011
LIVE: People gather for ‘religious’ protests Dec 23, 2011