Known for her crystalline waters and mesmerizing beaches, Maldives has been upholding her reputation as one of the most picturesque spots in the world, with tourism being the heart of the scatter of islands enveloped by infinite waters.
As the fastest growing economy in the country, tourism has been a main pillar in keeping the Maldives on the map. With ever increasing tourist arrivals on a yearly basis, the industry has been snowballing with increasing establishments of hotels and resorts.
Maldives had been ready to embrace an astounding arrival count by the beginning of 2019, although the chances had seemed less with the recent mishaps at sea in paradise.
With an alarming increase of the dangers of drowning in the hypnotic waters that have been taking the lives of many in recent months, by the end of 2018, the google search bar began suggesting looking up the question, “is it safe to travel to Maldives now?”.
Drowning incidents have been recorded in the Maldives waters in the past as well, however, since year-end in 2018, drowning has become a danger that has stirred an impeding fear in the heart of the tourism industry.
A wave of drowning incidents crashes over paradise.
The first dead body sighting was in October 2018 where a missing tourist had been discovered dead underwater near Fihalhohi Island Resort, a day after he had been reported missing.
A few months later in January when the Maldives saw the ever increasing number of tourist arrivals for New Year celebrations, another sighting surfaced in Paradise Island Resort. The 66-year-old Korean woman’s body was discovered in the water in mid-January and had been pronounced dead-on-arrival at the hospital.
A 40-year old Russian woman died while swimming during a safari trip a few days later, followed by another tourist who was found dead at sea in Paradise Island Resort. This was the same day a Pakistani man was saved from drowning off Thulusdhoo Island.
Another drowning took the lives of a Filipino couple on their honeymoon in Dhiffushi Island.
In the wave of the dead body sightings, the body of an 84-year-old tourist from Czech Republic in Central Europe was also discovered.
By the time February rolled around, the body of a 57-year old tourist was discovered in a resort, along with the body of an Indian national in the lagoon near the local fruit market in capital city Male’.
Astonishingly similar incidents followed the commencing month of February. A 45-year-old Chinese tourist has been found dead underwater near Robinson Club Resort in Noonu atoll and the body of a 20-year-old Maldivian was also found 30 meters underwater earlier the same day. A 78-year-old Australian tourist drowned off Velidhoo Island Resort on the 12th of February.
With the death count closing in on ten, the past week brought the dead bodies of a 40-year-old Turkish resort worker who drowned off Maafushi island in Kaafu atoll, a 60-year-old German tourist who drowned off Kuramathi Resort and a 50-year-old Chinese tourist who had been diving off a safari boat.
In comes accusations of negligence
With the alarming rate of tourist deaths, a tourist who visited Maldives two years back began asserting that the deaths were a result of under-water cables that came with high-voltage.
Environment Protection Agency had brushed off the accusations, accusing the person of spreading the rumor to harm the Maldives tourism industry, its backbone. Authorities had declared that although there might be small underwater cables, they would immediately remove them if there are reported risks such as leaks.
Lisa Mole, the tourist who made the assertion, had claimed to have lost consciousness while swimming in the Maldives, in the same region where a newlywed from Dublin drowned while on his honeymoon in 2017, the same year the sea incident happened to Mole.
Despite the drowning dangers, tourist arrivals soared in January
The Maldives Ministry of Tourism released their statistics for the beginning of the year, which showed a whopping total of 151,552 tourist arrivals in January, a 6.5% increase compared to the same period the previous year.
Ministry statistics also show that the tourist arrivals during December, the month the mishaps at sea began escalating, were higher than the same period the previous year.
Even so, the Ministry had not been negligent in urging operators in the industry to ensure tourist safety is maintained. As such, operators had been urged to not accommodate guests at locations unapproved by the ministry. Having begun an inspection into facilities that host and accommodate visitors across the country, the ministry had evaluated the conditions of both staff and guest accommodations as well as safety measures to be followed.
Now, IS it safe to visit Maldives?
While the drowning incidents are purely nature-related, the ministry had in their inspection found that there had been no negligence on any part.
There is no explanation for the wave of deaths that has crashed over the tourism industry, but there has also been a lot of successful tourist trips to the Maldives during the same period. Visitors in the region are however, advised to exercise caution when going in for a dip in the inviting waters.