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Catching on to new tourism trends in the Maldives

A young Adduan and his passionate team, work hard to introduce new aspects to the nation's much beloved industry.

Fathmath Shaahunaz
16 June 2018, MVT 11:43
Abdulla Anif poses with a catch. PHOTO/ADDU SPORT FISHING
Fathmath Shaahunaz
16 June 2018, MVT 11:43

Sporting a different lure for fishing enthusiasts around the world

Since the advent of the Maldivian Tourism Industry nearly 45 years ago, the sector has unrelentingly promoted its greatest assets – sea, sand and sunny skies – to bring an otherwise obscure archipelago to the world’s attention. Coining the ever-catchy 'The Sunny Side of Life', industry pioneers promised visitors a "paradise on Earth", introducing a slew of resorts that debuted a decadent and, at the time unheard of, one-island-one resort concept.

However, even though the triple threat of Travel, Hospitality and Luxury Markets rose far above benchmarks set by the Fisheries Industry, – often referred to as the “lifeforce” of the Maldives - the sector remained heavily dependent on resort islands over the past five decades. The diverse possibilities of tourism in the Maldives remained untapped, including Liveaboard and Budget Tourism, which came about in 2006 and 2010 respectively.

That said, there are still many unexplored waters in Maldivian tourism, and one individual blessed with the foresight to introduce yet another new frontier to the industry is Abdulla Anif. Born on Hithadhoo Island, nestled far in the southernmost atoll Addu, Anif is a young fishing enthusiast. After 15 years working in tourism, he realized that he could carve out a special niche for his beloved hobby in that very industry – recreational fishing.

Abdulla Anif poses with a catch. PHOTO/ADDU SPORT FISHING

“I have been interested in fishing all my life, since my childhood,” said Anif, likening his love of the activity to a persisting obsession. “It might’ve been because my childhood home was quite close to the sea. My day has never felt complete unless I fish; I wouldn’t be able to sleep otherwise.”

Anif became so hooked on the sport that he went on to compete in international sport fishing contests in Dubai. Ultimately his love of fishing, paired with his conviction of its revenue generating potential within the Tourism sector, spurred Anif to move back to his home island and completely devote himself to the task.

Teaming up with other passionate fishermen to form “Addu Sport Fishing”, he took on the feat of establishing recreational fishing as an integral part of Addu’s tourism. Anif and his team ventured into the field of sport fishing ten years ago, and with meticulous hard work, they gradually made it onto the radar of the outside world.

Abdulla Anif (C) pictured during a sports fishing excursion. PHOTO/ADDU SPORT FISHING

As they began to share captivating photographs and videos of sport fishing in Addu on social media, the group connected with an international community of passionate anglers, drawing more and more tourists towards the prospect of experiencing recreational fishing in the Maldives.

Thanks to highly aesthetic depictions of fishing out in the deep blue open, as well as a steadfast commitment to the industry, fishing enthusiasts from all over the world now come to Addu to indulge in sport fishing.

“We’re surrounded by the ocean but we haven’t made proper use of it,” Anif remarked. “Some of the guests ask why Maldivians don’t take advantage of such a huge resource; we’re crazy not to.”

During an excursion by Addu Sport Fishing. PHOTO/ADDU SPORT FISHING

Noting that sport fishing is already a billion dollar industry in the world, Anif suggested that the Maldives emulate countries such as Costa Rica where fishing tourism is a great source of income. With the ocean making up an overwhelming 99 percent of the Maldives’ geography, he stressed that the country could become a haven for sustainable recreational fishing.

With Addu Sport Fishing gaining momentum amongst tourists, Anif is looking to gain a proper foothold in his atoll before expanding sport fishing across the archipelago. His team is determined to prove that fishing tourism can be successfully done in the Maldives, and pave the way for others to follow. Their goals include training keen youths in this field, while setting up modern facilities that can fully cater to demands.

Anif revealed that he had initially failed to kick start sport fishing in Addu the way he first envisioned, unable to meet the tourists’ high demands.

Abdulla Anif poses with a catch. PHOTO/ADDU SPORT FISHING

“We need to maintain certain standards to do this on a large scale, with facilities that can cater to tourists.”

With unrelenting determination, Anif and his team are steadily striving to achieve their goals, the most important of which is to ensure that recreational fishing remains sustainable and environment friendly. He stressed that, in order to accomplish this, they need cooperation from all the fishermen in every branch of the fisheries industry.

“We also need the government’s support to make sport fishing a long-term business.”

During an excursion by Addu Sport Fishing. PHOTO/ADDU SPORT FISHING

Anif is confident that should a strong foundation be built to support fishing tourism, the recreational sector could attract international competitions to the Maldives as well. In hopes of getting the ball rolling, Addu Sport Fishing plans to hold educational and awareness programs targeting fishermen, youth and students on recreational fishing, with Anif proclaiming that fishing tourism could be a great boost to the economy of Addu and, eventually, that of the entire country.

Assured of opening new doors with fishing tourism, Anif is determined to use his skills and experience to elevate the Maldives’ rank as one of the best destinations for recreational fishing in the world.

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