Published on Tuesday, January 3, 2012

'Spa' ban threatens Maldives' tourism

Exclusive resorts in the Maldives are fighting a ban on their luxury spas and health centres after the government shut them down.

The president of the Indian Ocean archipelago issued the decree on Saturday after Islamic opposition parties argued the spas were a front for prostitution.

'The government has decided to close massage parlors and spas in the Maldives, following an opposition-led religious protest last week calling for their closure,' President Mohamed Nasheed's office said in a statement.

But head of Maldives Association of Tourism Industry, Sim Ibrahim said the move threatened tourism which was crucial for the national economy.

He hoped the ban would be overturned.

On Monday the tourism industry filed two cases in the local civil courts, asking the judiciary to revoke the ban, claimed MATI lawyer Azima Shukoor.

The Maldives is home to more than 330,000 Sunni Muslims and has come under pressure from a minority of religious fundamentalists who are growing in influence.

Importation of alcohol is already severely prohibited in the Maldives and Islamists are now calling for a complete ban on alcohol and the sale of pork.

By Diane Evans

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  • So, where are we on this?

    We were planning to visit in late March, and my partner was looking forward to all those relaxing massages and treatments whilst I'm diving. No spa, no trip! Does anyone have an update?

    By Lou Valdini, Saturday, January 14, 2012

  • Political

    This is another political game...nothing to do with professionally run resort/hotel Spas in Maldives.

    By Ally Ahmed, Tuesday, January 3, 2012

  • Whadda ya mean I can't have my Philippine Hilot

    Lets all hope for a happy ending on this one.

    By Karen Black, Tuesday, January 3, 2012

  • Shoot yourself in the foot time

    Religion, at the root of all wars and the most extreme and ridiculous rulings. So the Maldives would rather damage their economy and make the people suffer rather than be part of the Western World - very disappointing

    By nigel harris, Tuesday, January 3, 2012

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