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Tourism Ministry to kickstart tourist water safety programme

Ahmed Aiham
15 May 2019, MVT 21:37
Ahmed Aiham
15 May 2019, MVT 21:37

Minister of Tourism Ali Waheed revealed that a 'Water Safety' programme targeted for tourists is scheduled for Thursday, held at reclaimed suburb Hulhumale'.

During the press conference held at the ministry, Minister Waheed stated that Hulhumale' was selected for the initial programme location as the island hosts the largest number of guesthouse beds in the country.

The programme was initiated by the ministry as part of its efforts to mitigate and prevent the accidental drowning of guests. A number of tourists have passed away during the past few years.

The initiative is organized in association with Tourist Police, Coast Guard and the Guest House Association.

"We do not want to compromise safety for such an expanded industry", said Minister Waheed, adding that the current administration wishes to guarantee to establish Maldives as the safest tourist destination in the world.

Furthermore, the minister stated that the programme will be conducted across every island in the country. The initiative is not included in the 2019 state budget.

According to Deputy Minister Dr Naushad Mohamed, the programme is based on the efforts of other countries in tackling the issue, even taking into account the World Health Organization (WHO)'s 2014 'Global report on drowning: preventing a leading killer'.

Moreover, he stated that, with the assistance of island councils, the programme aims to map the islands and determine snorkelling and extreme watersports areas of the lagoon. Mentioning additional details, Naushad revealed that safety operations will be conducted based on the location deemed after the mappings.

The trial island for this initiative is Dhiffushi, Kaafu Atoll.

The ministry will prioritize islands with a guesthouse occupancy of over 100 beds. As such, a total of 17 islands have been identified to fit the criteria.

In addition to safety boards placed across the beach, the ministry will employ lifeguards at these islands. Lifeguard training will commence following the end of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr.

The ministry wishes to station lifeguards at these destinations by July and conduct operations based on the lifesaving standards such as those practised in Australia.

Additionally, the lifeguards will be provided adequate medical kits in case of emergencies. "It is our target to place a jetski on every beach so that lifeguards can use it", said the minister.

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