Visiting the Maldives has been on the bucket list for many travellers, especially since the lifting of the two-year-long lockdown. Often described as heaven on Earth, many travellers often save up for years to fulfil this bucket list-worthy trip to the Maldives which is a combination of a luxury and peaceful get-away. However, this dream vacation is often only accessible to the ‘abled’.
Even while we are coming to the end of 2022, ableism in the tourism industry is something that does not cross the mind of many. While we post beautiful sunsets from the best locations in the world, how often does one think about the accessibility of these small pieces of ‘paradise’?
When it comes to the Maldives, one of the top tourist destinations, on almost everyone's bucket list of places to go to, accessibility is a bigger issue than we can even imagine. When people describe the Maldives, the most commonly used words in the descriptions are what makes travelling so hard for those who are differently-abled ━ on the white sandy beaches that go on for miles and miles. While it is one of the favourite features for many when it comes to this destination, without an inclusive floor plan, not everyone can enjoy the beautiful views that everyone hypes the country up for.
While it is definitely way past the time that the Tourism Ministry or resort owners do something more about inclusivity, during this year's International Maldives Travel Market (IMTM) fair, the minister of Tourism Dr Abdulla Mausoon highlighted the importance of catering to the differently abled when it comes to travel to and within the Maldives. The country has been putting in a bigger effort to make transportation and other facilities more accessible in recent times, with the new mini-buses being accessible and free for those who are differently abled.
The Maldives, however, still have ways to go when it comes to being an accessible location. While catering to wheelchair users is one of the first steps towards inclusivity, acknowledgement of different types of disabilities is yet to be explored. While more developed countries are making roads more walkable for everyone, the Maldives still has narrow pavements and close to no road safety measures in place. The lack of crosswalks, and close to not-existing tactile paving anywhere in the Maldives says a lot about the inclusivity in the country. So when it comes to this beautiful destination, it still has ways to go before everyone can enjoy the vibrant orange sunsets or beautiful beaches of the Maldives.
It is not all hopeless when it comes to this country, however, as there are a few resorts that are putting in an effort to be inclusive and accessible to everyone. Resorts such as Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi that has step-free accessible rooms with wider bedroom and bathroom doors lowered light and temperature controls and grab bars, and Kudadoo Maldives private island that also has accessible and step-free villas are both among a few other resorts that have already started being inclusive and accessible.
While the Maldives is hopefully on the right track to accessibility, when you book your next trip to this country make sure your accommodation is one that is fit, and comfortable and caters to the needs and wants of everyone who is travelling!