Tourism Ministry trains Inspectors to check standards of guest houses and travel agencies in Atolls
A workshop to train guest house and travel agency inspectors was initiated by the Ministry of Tourism last Wednesday. Some 20 staff from 17 council secretariats participated. The one day event covered theoretical aspects of such inspections including registration procedures, regulations governing guest houses and travel agencies. Further to this, Maldives Inland Revenue Authority also did a presentation on taxation.
“We have been thinking about decentralising some of our inspection activities in the atolls for a while now,” said Aishath Ali, Director General at the Ministry. “This is the first of such efforts, aimed at civil servants working in the atolls.”
Amendments to the tourism regulations increased the workload for the Ministry, explained Ali. “It would considerably decrease expenses and save time by enabling government officials working in a particular atoll to conduct inspections of guest houses in that atoll,” she said. “It will greatly increase our efficiency.”
The training of the atoll inspectors is not complete, Ali informs. Participants have yet to undergo practical sessions with the Ministry’s ‘Quality Assurance Officers’ before they are fit for duty.
Once inspectors in the atolls are ready they will be tasked by the Ministry to inspect properties as required. Such inspectors will review properties to see if they fulfil mandatory criteria and report to the Ministry. The inspectors will carry an identification issued by the Ministry, while on their inspections
If properties do not meet the mandatory criteria, they may be fined or have their licenses revoked. But these measures are a last resort. The Ministry works together with the Guest Houses and Travel Agencies to see that the mandatory requirements are fulfilled for a license to be granted. The Ministry also works together with these properties to ensure that minimum standards are maintained.
There are four main types of inspections: registration, renewal, routine, and complaint. Routine inspections are conducted annually.
Plans to conduct more workshops to empower atoll staff to conduct inspections are in the pipeline, Ali revealed.
Long established as a luxury destination, mid-market guest house tourism took off in the Maldives in the late 2000s. The industry has expanded rapidly and today boasts over 200 accommodation options scattered across the country.