President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih said on Monday that the opportunity to open guest houses on inhabited islands in the Maldives was granted via a resolution passed by the parliament 15 years ago.
While speaking to Maldives Democratic Party (MDP) members in Kaafu atoll Guraidhoo ahead of the party's primary election scheduled for this Saturday, President Solih said even though the previous administration had worked hard to allow guesthouses to be operated on inhabited islands, it became possible due to a resolution passed by parliament in 2008.
"The people who were there when the resolution was passed mandating the government to allow guesthouses to be opened on inhabited islands are here," he said, gesturing at some of the MDP members attending the event who had been parliamentarians then. These included Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid, Defence Minister Mariya Ahmed Didi, Youth Minister Ahmed Mahloof, and former MP Moosa Manik.
He said that he had been a parliamentarian then as well.
"[They know] how this happened, how the debate was carried out, and how we had to submit it to the parliament more than once to get it approved," President Solih said.
He was referring to how the events proceeded when Abdul Hannan from Alifu Dhaalu atoll Maamigili had requested to open a guest house on that island. The policy at the time was that guesthouses or city hotels cannot be opened outside of Malé; this obstructed Hannan from operating a guesthouse on his island. He had filed the matter at the Civil Court and later won the case.
The ruling made by Judge Ali Naseer indicated that the court was aware of the efforts made by the parliament to pass the resolution so that guesthouses can be opened in other areas of the Maldives.
It is widely believed that former President Mohamed Nasheed was the one who opened the doors so that locals could operate guesthouses on inhabited islands. Last year, he was recognised for his contributions to the Maldivian tourism industry for this reason, as the Maldives celebrated 50 years of tourism.
Referring to what happened at the time, President Solih said that the biggest change in local tourism has occurred in the last 10 years.
He said he had raised the issue in parliament several times and worked to pass it.
Regarding the matter, former Henveiru MP Moosa Manik said that the issue was first submitted to the parliament in collaboration with him and the sitting MP from Maradhoo constituency, Ibrahim Shareef.
President Solih has stated that this administration will continue the operation of guest houses, transportation, and other essential services for the benefit of the people.