H. E. Thoriq Ibrahim, Minister of Environment and Energy, Honourable Chairman of MATI, Mr. M.U Manik, Ministers, Representatives from the Resorts, Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Assalam A’laikum and good morning.
It gives me great pleasure to address you on this special occasion of the very first 3R day in the Maldives. The theme chosen for this year, Our Environment- Our Economy, Our Future is indeed very relevant to the tourism sector of the Maldives. Since the introduction of tourism in the Maldives in the early 1970s, the Maldivian economy has rapidly transformed itself to largely dependent on the sector. The sector now accounts for roughly 75% of the GDP when counting both direct and indirect contributions, serving as a link and stimulus to almost every sector of the economy including transport, construction, trade and financial services.
The government recognizes the vitality of the natural environment to the sustainability of the industry. Environmental considerations were incorporated into the very first regulations developed for the sector in 1979. The Tourism Act of 1999 specified that all tourism projects must undertake an Environment Impact Assessment prior to the initiation of any project. In 2006 a separate regulation dedicated to protection and conservation of environment in the tourism industry was adopted. This regulation covers a wide range of areas, incorporating environmental considerations into all stages of tourism development and operation from protecting the environment during construction, through to protecting of biodiversity, waste management, waste water treatment and water storage in operations.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The rapid development of the tourism sector in Maldives was largely driven by the private sector. Through the hard work of our pioneers, the Maldives was transformed into a brand name synonymous with luxurious sun, sand and sea holidays. Given the vitality of the health of the natural environment to the tourism industry in the Maldives, many resorts have taken steps beyond the mandatory requirements to protect and conserve the fragile ecosystems of the Maldives. It is not surprising that the efforts of many of our resorts are consistently recognized by the international community, and have won various international awards for conserving the environment. The presence of so many resorts here today to sign the declaration towards sustainable tourism and protection of marine and coastal ecosystems is further testimony to the commitment of the industry to conserve the environment. Let me take this opportunity to thank all the resorts who have come onboard to support the government in this endeavor.
In order to express our appreciation, and to further encourage the measures by the industry to incorporate resource efficiency into tourism operations, I am proud to announce the national 3R award, an honour given from the next year to tourist resorts that meet certain standards.
And before I conclude, let me once again thank the representatives fromthe tourism industry who are here to pledge their commitment to strive towards 3R and resource efficiency in the Maldives. Our successful tourism industry today was created from the beauty of our islands handed over to us intact by our forefathers. We must ensure that in turn, we hand them over to coming generations in a state that does not compromise their future. The future that we want for our children tomorrow, is ours to create today.
I thank His Excellency President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom and the Maldives Association of Tourism Industry, Chairman M.U. Manik, and Board of Directors and Secretary General of MATI for the initiative.
And also I would like to conclude my speech, for the effort of our very young and vibrant Environment Minister, now we believe that Mr. Thoriq, our Environment Minister will become an Environment Champion not only in Maldives, but also at a very International stage.Thank you once again
Wassalaam Alaikum Warahmathullah Wabarakaathuh