Monday, December 8, 2008

Can Internal Tourism Reduce Income Disparity?



The eerie silence and the empty streets of Male give a rough idea of how many people left the capital city for Eid holidays. While accurate numbers are not available, a boat captain leaving with 80 passengers bound for Thaa Atoll estimates more than 2000 people are expected to go to that atoll alone, Haveeru Daily reports. Thus one could make a safe guesstimate of between 15,000 to 20,000 local tourists going to all the atolls.


Assuming each tourist spends about 400 rufiyaa per day on accommodation, food, travel within the atoll, shopping etc. the total spending by 20,000 tourists in 7 days of Eid holidays would amount to Rf 56 million. While Eid holidays are an exceptional period, other periods could also attract significant numbers of tourists if internal tourism is better organized –scheduled transport, guest houses, tour operators, etc.


Internal tourism could potentially help to transfer money from the Capital to the peripheral islands and reduce the income disparities between the two areas. According to Poverty and Vulnerability Assessment Report 2004, the median household income was Rf 49 per person per day in Male, compared to only Rf 21 in the atolls. Thus in 2004 incomes in Male were 2.3 times higher than those in the atolls. Worse, the income disparity is apparently increasing. In 1997 Male incomes were only 1.7 times higher.


These inequalities pose significant challenges to the country as a whole. They include rising unemployment, particularly among young people. Many young secondary school graduates, ambitious and with high expectations, are not aiming to return to their island if the only jobs available there are limited to the traditional sectors like fisheries. So if more attractive work is not made available in the islands they are likely to remain in Male, frustrated and disillusioned, leading to social tensions in Male'.


Thus urgent solutions are needed to reduce the imbalances between Male and the atolls. Will internal tourism contribute to the solution?

8 comments:

Abdulla Yasir said...

Tourism has the potential to reduce the gap between rich and the poor. There is nothing wrong with tourism per se in relation to your question. The problem is that government's policies are sexed up in the Maldives in a way that disbenefits the poor and the weak.

By the way, what is INTERNAL TOURSIM???

J said...

Given the absolute certainty that this Tourism Cartel has no intention whatsoever of 'nationalizing' the industry and doing justice to the inalienable right of every Maldivian to reap the benefits of the natural world that is also by birth their heritage, i would say this is an option that the average working class of this country needs to explore.

I am one of the people who have an intense desire to travel my country in it's entirety. Local tourism would receive a considerable boost if the facilities, amenities and accommodation available to those that visit the far reaches of our beautiful islands and its unique peoples, developed.

A shame that the majority of Maldivians have never seen their country for what it really is; an archipelago of the most pristine and delicate of islands strewn carelessly across the indian ocean. Our fascination should be no less than that of the high heeled tourists that visit this country....

Yes, this is something that needs to be explored further imho. The potential for improving the plight of local folk and reviving the cultural & natural link that every Divesse inextricably should identify with by way of being a Divesse, is there if we are able to develop such an industry...

Anonymous said...

Does this mean MDP transport plan will work? I personally don't have doubts about that.

Abdullah Waheed's Blog said...

To Yasir,
By the term 'internal tourism' I meant tourists originating from within the Maldives, as opposed to those originating abroad.

shiham said...

This is exactly what we need. We need to travel from one island to another, one country to another. Our life is a misery without it as we have to live in less than a Kilometer island. Where there is misery, there will be nothing but devil.
Excellent post Dr Waheed and this is, i am sure, something that lots of Maldivian would agree. We need tourism internally or who ever can afford can and should be allowed to go to resorts as well. Did you notice that worlds largest economy USA is famous for its internal tourism. It is not their first option to travel abroad, cause they have build ways and attitudes and cultures to enjoy their own environments, surroundings and give back the society the weath and create an abundant people interms of knowledge, wealth etc.
Im not comparing us to USA, but take the concept in to consideration and we will benefit from it. How many of us would have jobs in hotels, travel agents, private excursion guides (Specializing in the area), picnic islands, Historical places. Traveling is a very interesting subject, sorry i might have got little bit carried away..
Again! Good Post and may god bless Republic of Maldives:)))

Abdulla Yasir said...

If there is an internal tourism, then external is implied. Such a term as external tourism is odd given the nature of the industry.

If what you meant is tourism generated from within the country, then that is domestic tourism.

Anonymous said...

I support to Mr. Waheeds thoughts. As mentioned by Yasir, Whaheed might not have used the correct word. The correct word is “domestic tourism”, not “internal tourism”.

MaldivesTourismUpdate.com

Mohonu said...

There are no specific correct terms. We can even invent terms and phrases. I like the phrase "internal tourism".