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Maldives needs to market its history and traditions in order to promote cultural tourism, the Tourism Ministry said.

Maldives has many places of historical and cultural interest which tourists would like to visit on excursions, an official from the Tourism Ministry said.


The traditional lifestyles of Maldivians can also be displayed in order to create interest among tourists in the way of life of ordinary Maldivians, the official said.


However, the Tourism Ministry noted that presently, such depiction of traditional lifestyles and culture has room for improvement.

Tourists' spending habits have taken a downward turn since the war on Iraq, tourism analysts here said.

Resort operators said that they have noticed tourists spending less on non-luxury items such as souvenirs.


However, a tourism expert said that it may be middle-income earning tourists and tourists who come on all-inclusive packages who are reluctant to spend more while on holiday.


"Tourist spending in high-end resorts have remained more or less the same," according to one tour operator.

European travellers to Maldives marked an 8.5 percent increase in May 2003 compared to the year-ago period, the Tourism Ministry said.

However, the ministry noted that Maldives saw a 26.9 percent decline in tourist arrivals from Asian countries in the same period.


The Ministry also said that tourist arrivals from the Americas to the Maldives marked a 21 percent decline in May 2003 compared to the year-ago period.

Maldives has participated a meeting of Asian tourism industry officials in Manila, the Philippines.

Maldives was represented at the meeting by Tourism Minister Hassan Sobir.


The two-day meeting, which concluded today, June 22, discussed collective strategies to enable national tourism administrations to cope with the tourism and travel crisis caused by SARS in Asia.


Though Maldives has no reported SARS cases, the meeting is seen as a gateway to address travel industry issues at regional level.


The meeting was organised by World Tourism Organisation.

More domestic airports are in the pipeline, according to the Transport Ministry, to accommodate easier travel to all the atolls.

The airports will help to introduce and boost tourism to various atolls of the Maldives, according to tourism officials.


The proposed domestic airports will be set up in Dhaalu atoll Enboodhoo-futtaru island, Thaa atoll Usfushi island, Noonu atoll Dhigurah island, and Gaafu Dhaalu atoll Dhidhoo island. Tourism Minister Hassan Sobir has described Gaafu Dhaalu atoll as offering some of the best waves in the world for world's top surfers.


Transport Minister Ilyas Ibrahim has said that the proposed airports will be set up as wholly private ventures and has invited private companies interested in setting up domestic airports to apply for the projects.


Under the Maldives' "Vision 2020", the government hopes to set up resorts and hotels in all the 20 atolls of the Maldives archipelago.

Tourism Minister Hassan Sobir has called on Maldivian women to enter the various job opportunities available in resorts and hotels of the Maldives.

As of now, only few women work in the tourism industry, the reason being that parents do not want their daughters to go away to work out of hometown.


The most recent census of the Maldives show that only 37 percent of women are engaged in income-earning work, in contrast to 72 percent of men, though women make up half of the 278,000 population of the Maldives.


Labor Minister Abdulla Kamaludin has said that it is important to pursue any type of job, whatever kind of work it is, as long as the job is honest and honourable.

Maldives has envisioned that resort islands will be built in all the atolls of the archipelago, the Tourism Ministry said.

Plans and discussions are ongoing to introduce tourism to all atolls as envisioned in the Maldives development vision, "Vision 2020," Tourism Minister Hassan Sobir said while addressing the 7th Atoll Chief's Consultative Meeting that concluded in Male' today (Thursday, 12 June 2003).


The Tourism Ministry has revealed that the income generated from tourist arrivals to the Maldives now form 70 percent of the foreign currency that enter the country.


The tourism industry also contributes 40 percent to the total GDP of Maldives, according to the Tourism Ministry.

LOHIFUSHI - The final stages of the world's most prestigious surfing event, the O'Neill Deep Blue Open, started today (Thursday, 12 June 2003) off Lohifushi island of the Maldives.

Britain's top surfer Alan Stokes was among the finalists of the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Qualifying Series (WQS) which is being held in the Maldives for the third straight year.


The O'Neill Deep Blue Open 2003 is hosted in the Maldives by the Tourism Promotion Board of the Maldives and the Surfing Association of Maldives.


The event will conclude on Sunday, 15 June 2003.



The Maldivian Arts and Crafts Exhibition opened yesterday (Friday, 13 June 2003) in Male'.

The exhibition is organised by the Creative Arts and Crafts Training Center and the Heritage Gift Shop to showcase handicraft works by Maldivian craftspeople.


An official from Heritage Gift Shop said that locally crafted souvenirs are much in demand among tourists on excursion to Male', the capital island of Maldives. Souvenirs at the exhibition include elaborately crafted items from wood.


Heritage Gift Shop has now become one of the leading stores in Male' to offer exclusively locally crafted souvenirs for tourists.


The Maldivian Arts and Crafts Exhibition will close tomorrow (Sunday, 15 June 2003).


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