The Republic of Maldives, an island nation consisting of a double chain of twenty-six atolls, is recognised as an iconic vacation destination. It is surprising to realise then, that tourists only started visiting the archipelago from the early 1970s.
The chains of beautiful Maldive islands are just the very tips of a vast submarine mountain range in the Indian Ocean and the surrounding coral atolls home to some of the world’s most spectacular coral reefs. In the last 40 years the economy of the Maldives has been completely transformed by the tourism industry, which is now the single biggest generator of wealth for the collection of 185 islands. With their land perched so precariously above the waters of the Indian Ocean, climate change has become a major concern for the Maldives which has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2019.
Today it is the hotels and resorts that have become important custodians of the nation’s prosperity and protectors of their natural marine based assets. Green Globe works with two major hotel groups in the region – Constance Hotels & Resorts and Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts, managers of the Chaaya brand. Green Globe’s certification program provides these resorts with the sustainability framework to ensure that following generations of Dhivehins will continue to prosper from travel and tourism business.
In recognition of the work done by these tourism businesses, Green Globe recently presented Sustainability Leader Awards to three of the most outstanding resorts.
Constance Moofushi, with its wood and thatch over-sea villas, was recognised for its outstanding engagement with community development and staff integration. The resort supports the presentation of local cultural shows performed by staff members, as well as an education program helping young children from neighbouring islands to understand the basics of sustainability. To assist their guests appreciate the precious marine life of the surrounding Ari Atoll, the resort’s expert marine biologist has produced education material which is displayed in each room via video and within their “Green Book”.
On the Northern side of the Ari Atoll, sister resort and Sustainability Leader Award winner Constance Halaveli, takes great effort in reducing the amount of packaging and plastics onto their fragile island home. The resort has become expert at producing still and sparkling mineral water from tap water via its own bottling plant. While the resort has reduced the need for plastic water bottles, they also ensure all glass bottles bought on-island are returned for recycling. Constance Halaveli’s crowning environmental achievement is its coral regrowth program, which stimulates the growth of coral in the lagoon around the resort, and helps repair the damage caused by the Tsunami in 2004.
Cinnamon Hotel & Resorts’ Chaaya Reef Elaidhoo is the final Green Globe Sustainability Leader Award winner in the Maldives and is a fervent practitioner of recycling across the property, ensuring all dry waste is separated for reuse or collection for recycling. Chaaya Reef Elaidhoo is also renowned for promoting Maldivian cuisine, bringing local recipes and tastes to visiting guests. These unique culinary offerings are enhanced by the use of local produce sourced from the resort’s own hydroponic garden.
The Maldives is truly one of the world’s maritime treasures that prosper in a delicate environmental balance. Green Globe’s Sustainability Leaders work to preserve their islands so that the rest of the world may visit and experience the unique natural beauty. At the same time their education and cultural development encourages an understanding of this delicate balance and asks both locals and visitors to make a difference, not just at the resort, but also when they return to their homes.