The government has signed an agreement to support local island tourism in the Maldives, with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
With the aim to promote community-based sustainable, resilient and inclusive tourism development as well as to transform tourism in the Maldives with a focus on diversification of tourism, the “GoM-UNDP Reimagining Tourism” project was signed on Wednesday.
UNDP Maldives and the tourism ministry launched the virtual inception workshop of the project during March, bringing together over 50 stakeholders in the tourism and development ecosystem, both within the country as well as globally.
UNDP Resident Representative Akiko Fujii signed the agreement on behalf of UNDP and Minister of Tourism Dr. Abdulla Mausoom signed on behalf of the Maldivian government.
The project will see the tourism industry’s diversification through community-led conservation and utilization of natural ecosystems as well as cultural heritage as a novel tourism product.
This, the ministry said is projected to pave way for bigger roles for local councils in the planning of tourism and intertwining the tourism industry to the country’s traditional knowledge and livelihoods.
The project aims to create avenues for greater participation of women and youth as well.
During the ceremony held at the ministry premises, Minister Mausoom revealed that the inclusion of women and youth is meaningful towards sustainable development of the industry.
He went on to shed light on the role of local councils in local tourism planning and development, stressing on the need to integrate tourism in the land use plans
The minister noted that local councils will be able to fully utilize the authority assigned to them under the Decentralization Act, through the newly signed ‘Reimagining Tourism’ project.
Tourism ministry highlighted that the project will support sustainable local island tourism development planning through conducting training programmes for local stakeholders on sustainable tourism, as well as creating sustainability opportunities for tourism development in local islands and the creation of a decentralized local tourism audit mechanism alongside incorporating sustainability indicators.
The reliance of the economy of the Maldives on tourism, is seen in the numbers. With over 26.3% direct contribution, and 70% indirect contribution to the GDP, it is no surprise that the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been felt across multiple sectors along with the tourism sector. The Rapid livelihood Assessment conducted by the Government and UNDP revealed that the ripple effect of these consequences had impacted construction, transport, wholesale and retail businesses. These further stresses the need for resilience building of the tourism industry”Akiko Fujii, UNDP Resident Representative.
In addition, the project will also support opportunities to market local tourism, capitalize on island-specific brand narrative formed on “unique” natural cultural and historical assets of islands as well.
Further, the project will see the encouragement of youngsters and women achieve greater participation in the tourism industry as well as develop a set of skills essential for industry participation.
The tourism ministry noted that the dividends to nature and local communities from the tourism industry could see potential growth nationwide, if the project is successfully implemented.
Funded through the UNDP Core Funds under its ‘Rapid Financing Facility’, the ‘Reimagining Tourism’ project will be implemented across Laamu atoll with the local tourism development focus, over an 18-month period.
The project mirrors the UNDP’s commitment to support Small Island Developing States recover from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, sustainably.
The experience of the Maldives with this project, the successes, failures (if any), challenges and lessons learnt will be of much value to other SIDs who also find themselves grappling with challenges similar to the Maldives. I am happy to note that the project contributes to achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.”Akiko Fujii, UNDP Resident Representative.