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Environmentally Friendly Tourism in the Maldives

by Travelbag on 04 March 2015, 15:03PM

Pearly white sand, swaying palm trees, and aquamarine lagoons, the beauty spread out along the collection of atolls are the crown jewel of the Indian Ocean. With magnetising landscapes, fascinating fish, and a humbling system of intricate waterways, coves and reef below, the stunning natural beauty of the Maldives is unparalleled. It’s no wonder why the 26 atolls and 1000 surrounding islands draw in the world’s top diving aficionados. 

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With the devastating effects of global warming, the country’s delicate ecosystem has to be treated with extra care.  The low-lying Maldives (the tallest atoll reaching just below 8 feet) are already at risk of being enveloped by the ocean waters. Therefore, the importance of responsible ecotourism in the Maldives cannot be stressed enough. If more is not done to protect the incredibly rich marine biosphere, there can be potentially devastating effects. 

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According to the International Ecotourism Society, ecotourism is defined as, “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education.” The practice, while still relatively new to the Maldives, and to the world, invites travellers to experience all that the Islands have to offer while taking part in its conservation and revitalization. Now, more independent organisations and the government are increasing their efforts to ensure that environmentally and socially responsible practices are followed. 

Designated Marine Protected Areas

The Maldivian government has gone to great lengths to safeguard its natural resources. The government analysed the impact of tourism and fishing in highly populated areas and found that tourists’ interest in the areas were much more beneficial to the country and marine life than the acts of the fisherman. As a result, it has declared 30 dive spots to be marine protected areas, which means that all types of fishing boats and activities such as the removal of sea creatures and dumping of waste are prohibited. 

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Ecotourism Guidelines

The government has also developed explicit guidelines for tourism industries such as resorts and dive centres to follow in regards to recreational diving. Additionally, participants must be made aware of safe diving practices and government regulations. The Maldivian government has also developed a list of marine life that is prohibited from being killed or collected. Among the many of the creatures, some on the list include dolphins, turtles, whale sharks, whales, giant clams and conch shells. Furthermore, the exportation of several items such as turtles and turtle shells, eel, parrot fish, pearl oysters and black coral and products made of black coral. 

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Ecotourism Resorts

As awareness spreads, more and more tourism industries are adopting their own measures to ensure that they practice safe, responsible and environmentally friendly tourism, while reducing their global footprint and emphasizing the education of such efforts. For example, several hotels in the Maldives generate their own electricity and some even maintain their own water supplies. Some of the most environmentally conscious resorts in the Maldives include the Taj Exotica Resort and Spa, and Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru. 

Taj Exotica Resort

As the Maldives’ first Earth Check certification recipient, the Taj Exotica Resort has been designated a leader in the ecotourism and conservation efforts of the islands. It has increased its efforts to reduce the amount of diesel fuel used, by finding alternative ways to heat water. Additionally, the hotel utilities a rainwater catchment system and adorns its gardens with plants and succulents that do not require watering. 

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Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru

The resort is home to a marine conservation lab that was established in 2004 to increase awareness of coral reefs and marine life in the Maldives. The resort has done an immense amount of work to recover and protect the reef and the endangered green sea turtles. Being an ecotraveler can be extremely enriching and rewarding. While it may often require more research and unconventional ways of traveling and going about daily activities, the impact it has on the world is tremendous. 

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Click here to read more or call one of our travel experts on 0203 944 2201 to discuss eco-tourism in the Maldives.


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