Thirty resorts signed an agreement Tuesday to maintain and conserve specific regions of their islands’ coral reefs.
Out of the 30 resorts, 27 signed the contract at the Tourism Industry Forum held on the occasion of World Tourism Day. The resorts are Jumeirah Vittaveli, Atmosphere Kanifushi, Komandoo Island Resort, Meeru Island Resort, Veligandu Island Resort, Kuredu Island Resort, Vilamendhoo Island Resort, Huravalhi Island Resort, Bandos Island Resort, Royal Island Resort, Soneva Fushi, Paradise Island Resort, Six Senses Laamu, Kuramathi Island Resort, Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru, Angsana Velavaru, Biyadhoo Island Resort, Taj Exotica Resort and Spa, Vivanta by Taj Coral Reef, Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma, Cinnamon Dhonveli, Fihalhohi Island Resort, Sun Island Resort & Spa, Reethi Beach Resort, Park Hyatt and Soneva Jani.
Three more resorts with Adaaran Select Meedhupparu, Amilla Fushi and Finolhu are also to sign the agreement. However, the three resorts’ contracts have been postponed as their representatives had been unable to attend the tourism forum.
An official of the tourism ministry told Mihaaru that the agreement was made under the plan created by the government in 2013 to convert the entire Maldives’ archipelago to a UNESCO biosphere reserve by the end of 2017. Under the agreement, a specified section of each resort’s coral reef must be maintained and conserved without altering any of its natural environment.
According to the official, the contract divides reef conservation into seven categories with varying limitations on the changes allowed to reefs and their extent. Each resort has the option to choose any of the categories.
Under the agreement, the research and conservation of the allocated coral reef sections will be undertaken by the environment ministry and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Plans to convert the entire archipelago of the Maldives into a biosphere reserve was first announced in 2012 by the then president Mohamed Waheed at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Cabinet of the Maldives had compiled its first official plan to achieve the ambitious target in January of the following year.
UNESCO currently lists Baa atoll of the Maldives as a biosphere reserve.