Tourist arrested for wearing bikini in the Maldives – The facts behind the headlines
A western tourist was arrested recently in the Maldives, allegedly for wearing a bikini. It made dramatic headline news around Europe. So let’s look beyond the headline a little.
The tourist, who it seems was British and apparently a UK Government advisor (capacity unknown), was staying on the island of Maafushi, which is located about 16 miles south of the capital island Male. Unlike many of the islands in the Maldives, which are exclusively for tourists and tend to be single resort, Maafushi has a local population of around 3,000. It has no international hotels, however, it does have over 50 simple guest houses.
These were encouraged by the Maldives Government , in an attempt to diversify their tourism and to give opportunities for more of the local population to be involved.
It also opens up a different pricing level. Plus there could be clients who deliberately shun the exclusive resort island and want something which is much more simple and authentic. By choosing this style of holiday any traveller realistically accepts local standards on dress etiquette and traditions. This happens throughout the world and not just in the Maldives.
Yes, the island police could have been heavy handed in dealing with this matter, following complaints from some of the local population. The tourist was seemingly released after a few hours and then moved to another island before flying home.
Lessons learnt are several. The Maldives Government maybe needs to be more specific when promoting this type of holiday. Also overseas clients travelling to any area need to be respectful to local traditions, and this particularly applies when “homestay“ type accommodation has been selected.
Just as an aside on this , all of the holidays offered by Chic Locations in the Maldives are to exclusive resort islands where bikini type swimwear is accepted. Although it is expected, this will be suitably modest rather than heart attack inducing! Day visits to locally inhabited islands can be arranged depending on atoll location.
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