20 May 2005

Maldives: Paradise for divers but hell for Maldivian dive professionals

Classed amongst the top dive destinations in the world, even today Maldives attracts more dive enthusiasts than any other market of tourism. Some of the best dive brands are now operating in Maldives and is considered to be a very good industry to work in.

Over the years, several Maldivians have taken up diver courses and training and some have enjoyed good fortune by securing a job with a large company like Eurodivers but there are hundreds who have not been as fortunate.

No exact data is available on the number of dive professionals in Maldives such as Dive Masters and Instructors. The estimate is that there are more than 50 dive instructors and double that figure trained as dive masters. According to them one of the biggest obstacles they face in securing jobs is that problem of language.

The largest dive market for Maldives is Italy and Germany so it is a requirement that they are able to teach in these language or at least communicate well in order to conduct their duties. Divers blame the government for it lack of planning and vision in providing such training to dive professionals.

Another problem is that many dive bases and schools in Maldives are run by foreigners and they prefer to employ foreigners apparently because of the language but mostly because that person is known to the owner of the dive school or is a family member. In some resorts, sometimes there is just 1 Maldivian dive guides out of 24 and in some there is none. Government regulation is important in this sector if they are serious about the professional divers from Maldives.

It has been more than 30 years since tourism began in Maldives but to this day there is not much importance attached to ensuring that locals are able to secure jobs in their respective fields such as diving, accounting and even in entertainment.

Studying and training to become a diver master or an instructor is a lot of hard work and also costs quite a bit of money. People invest their time and money to become one because it is a relative high paid job.

An instructor could earn anything between US$ 600 to US$ 2000 depending on experience. Surely, a qualified dive instructor would not want to sit and work in an office but some are doing just that in Maldives now because they have no opportunity in the field.

Dive enthusiasts and professionals in Maldives have now launched a society in order to address and combat these issues but they are not getting the kind of support they need from the industry or the government. The whole purpose of the tourism industry is to provide a living for the people of Maldives first and to contribute to the public services that people need.

By not addressing the issue of ensuring that locals are in full employment, the hard earned foreign currency is being squeezed out of Maldives at a very nigh percentage, estimated to be more than 80% on the receipts.

The dive industry is yet another area where Maldivians are classed as second class citizens. These disparities in opportunities must be eliminated if we are to prosper as a nation that is ready to move forward into the 21st century as a developing nation.

Source: www.dhivehiobserver.com


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