Robert Linsky review 1 Jan 2014
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?
Candle lit dinner + sunset on the tiny sandbank island.
2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?
Take shoes for swimming as seabed can be sore on the feet.
3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?
Provided employment for local people. Did not reduce environmental impact ... extra plastic waste, poor tourist fishing damaged some coral.
4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?
Sent e-mail to encounters 20.01.14
E-mail sent to encounter 04.07.14 JP
Read the operator's response here:
Thank you for taking the time to provide us with your valuable feedback.
I wanted to get back to you regarding your comments on plastics and the way that our tour
impacts on the local environment.
I think it is important to note that it is not just about education and awareness of our
business and our clients, but also an education and awareness of the local community. Local
Island tourism is less than 3 years old and many concerns that travelers raise rubbish,
potential health and safety risks based on the western world, water usage etc
existed before local island tourism was even thought about, because for the locals that was their world and they didn't/dont know any different.
Since the introduction of local island tourism improvements by the local community particularly on islands such as Maafushi which has a large tourism industry now have been made and are continuing to be made. When we first visited at the beginning of 2012 every street was littered, now the island has a rubbish collection system and the streets are maintained. It may not be 100% perfect but it is a huge step forward. Unfortunately, however, until there is a national waste scheme to deal with the tons of rubbish produced the bigger picture issue will not be resolved.
With regards to fishing, again I have seen it myself where the anchor is just thrown overboard with no care for the coral. Most fishermen, even those who perhaps work with the tourism industry, do not understand or appreciate the importance of the coral reefs to the Maldives. To them it is not the wonder and beauty that we as tourists see it but as a habitat from which they gain finance lobsters, octopus, fish. Fortunately, however, coral does grow back. A reef off an island in South Ari Atoll was decimated by developers throwing building rubble and concrete on to it. However, 4 years later it is an amazing table coral garden. If our guides witnesses bad practice then he will at an appropriate time highlight it with the individual concerned, tourist, supplier or operator. Should an operator/supplier repeat this practice then our local manager will get involved to ensure it isn't repeated.
The Maldives authorities have taken some positive measures in order to protect exploitation of the marine environment. Among this includes protected marine sites, prohibition of catching turtles and other endangered species, and banning shark fishing (although it does still happen illegally).
The whole idea of this tour itinerary in the Maldives is to stay on local islands rather than
luxury resort islands that may be internationally owned by major hotel chains. Through doing
this, we aim to:
Use locally owned infrastructure.
To help put profits into local hands in order that they can benefit directly
To use services developed and managed by locals
Provide employment and business opportunities for local people.
Respect local customs and culture.
We want our guests to learn about local customs and cultural practices whilst
respecting local dress and behaviour requirements
Limit the physical impact of trips and work with our partners to educate and improve awareness
within local community.
Wherever possible travel by public and not private transport.
Encourage our guests to deal with waste appropriately, lead by example and where
possible take plastic waste home (mentioned in our welcome letter)
Brief our snorkellers on reef etiquette
Coach and educate our suppliers and local partners.
I hope the above information is helpful in explaining how we try to limit our impact on the
local environment of the Maldives when operating our tours.