Maldives President apologizes for wedding ceremony incident


(eTN) – Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed has outlined new measures to regulate tourist wedding ceremonies in the Maldives after a recent incident where staff at a resort mocked and insulted a foreign couple renewing their vows. In his weekly radio address on Friday morning, the President said all tourist hotels without exception will now be required to follow the new guidelines, which will be issued shortly.

The President´s remarks follow the incident which occurred at Vilu Reef Resort. A video of the incident appeared on YouTube last week. It shows the couple sitting in a makeshift shelter on the beach surrounded by local people. The celebrant explains the ceremony in English before everyone stands and holds their hands up to pray. But instead of words of blessing, the celebrant unleashes a torrent of abuse about the couple in the Dhivehi language.

In his address, President Nasheed expressed disgust at the incident and described the behavior of those involved as “absolutely disgraceful.” He appealed to all members of the staff working in tourist resorts to be “vigilantly professional.” The President noted that bad behavior, such as that depicted in the YouTube video, can cause enormous damage to the country´s tourism industry.

The government has launched a full scale investigation into what happened in Vilu Reef Resort. In a statement issued yesterday, the government said that “no stone will be left unturned to ensure that an incident like this never happens again.” Vilu Reef hotel, run by Sun Hotels and Resorts, charges US$1,300 (£820) for the ceremony, which it says offers couples the chance to “mark a milestone in your amazing journey together.” The company says the celebrant has been suspended and is taking disciplinary action against staff involved.

Tourism is vital for the Maldives, and people in the country were reported to be furious at the possible damage to their reputation. In a BBC interview, the Maldives’ Deputy Tourism Minister, Ismail Yasir, denied that the incident was a symptom of anatgonism between local people and tourists.