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Best waves in the Maldives could become off limits

Amy Kotch at Sultans © Richard Kotch Photography

Surf Travel

Tourism laws prohibit non-guests from using prominent surf points at resorts

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 16 August, 2012 : - - The Maldives Surfing Association (MSA) has hit out at a proposed resort development on a Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) training island, claiming it will substantially reduce local access to an already limited number of high-profile waves in the country. The island of Thanburudhoo hosts the breaks Sultans and Honkeys.

Ahmed Rifaee, a member of the MSA’s Steering Committee, claimed that while Maldivians were largely unaware of the significance of the waters around the island of Thanburudhoo to the country’s sporting heritage, the proposed resort development threatened to leave local people with access to just two world-class surf points.

Rifaee said that tourism laws presently prohibit non-guests from using prominent surf points based at the country’s resorts – legislation that threatens the future development of a sport he noted had gained the Maldives its greatest athletic successes and recognition internationally.

The resort proposal, first discussed under the previous government as part of plans to fund a state-of-the-art military training complex, was forwarded to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) this week to determine the legality of an island set aside for the military being leased for commercial purposes.

However, the private group linked to the development, Telos Investment, told Minivan News that a “robust development plan” was being put in place for local surfers, adding that discussions were already under way with surf authorities – including the MSA – over the issue.

Earlier this week, the MNDF confirmed to Minivan News that it would be leasing Thanburudhoo to a third-party that would develop the site as a surf resort. The island is currently used by officers for training and recreational purposes. The country’s military authorities this month registered the MNDF Welfare Company in a bid to generate income to fund welfare services for the armed forces by investing in various businesses, including the tourism sector.

With an ACC investigation set to be tabled in the coming days, the development proposal was slammed by Rifaee, who claimed that the waters around the island were a unique experience for local and international surfers alike. He added that the waters housed two world class waves that had been used for generations to allow local surfers to hone their skills – no matter their levels of experience.

“We have been surfing these waves for a long time, they are one of the best training grounds for local surfers,” Rifaee said. “Outside the local community, it is little known by the wider Maldivian people about what a loss this would be to the country. I would say it was equivalent in England to selling off Wembley stadium to a foreign company.”

Read the full article by Neil Merrett at Mini Van News

Source: Mini Van News

Author: Neil Merrett

Tags: Maldives, Surf Resorts, Indian Ocean, Developement,

Surf Travel: Surfersvillage

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