Unlocking opportunities: Exploring the absence of Maldivian leadership in international hotel chains

The Maldives is a dream destination for many travellers, who flock to its stunning beaches, colourful coral reefs, and lavish resorts. It has won the World Travel Awards as the best tourist destination for three years in a row, from 2020 to 2022. But behind the scenes, there is a puzzling phenomenon that deserves attention: the lack of Maldivian leaders in international hotel chains.

Many Maldivian General Managers have proven their skills and abilities in running locally owned resorts, but only two of them have reached the top position in resorts managed by global hospitality brands. Why is this the case? Why do these international chains prefer to bring in foreign managers instead of hiring from the local talent pool?

We know that the Maldives has a lot of qualified and educated professionals who can excel in the hospitality industry. The success of Maldivian General Managers in local resorts shows this clearly. But the low representation of Maldivians in international chains indicates a gap that needs to be explored.

International hotel chains have a big influence on how the Maldives is perceived by the world. Their choice of leadership not only affects the individual manager, but also the image of the destination. The question is: Are these global brands investing enough in training and developing local talent for these important roles? To understand this better, we need to look at the strategies and policies that these chains use to nurture and empower Maldivians to become leaders.

We also need to find out the reasons behind this pattern. Is it because of a lack of skills, a preference for international experience, or a cultural mismatch? Finding out these factors can help us design interventions that can bridge the gap and ensure that Maldivians are not only the face of tourism, but also the architects of its future.

To solve this issue, we need to go beyond the surface and examine the recruitment, training, and leadership development programmes that international hotel chains offer. We need to work together with the government, local institutions, and these global entities to create an environment where Maldivians are not only employees, but leaders, who can contribute to the growth and sustainability of the industry.

The low number of Maldivians at the helm of international hotel chains in their own paradise is a challenge that needs to be addressed. It is a good time to ask, learn, and collaborate to ensure that the Maldives remains a global tourism leader, and also a place where its own people lead the way to a prosperous and sustainable future.

Ibrahim Mahudhee
Ibrahim Mahudhee is the Managing Editor of Hotelier Maldives. Mahudhee can be contacted on: mahudhee@hoteliermaldives.com