Postscript: The group Tourism Concern point out, however, that its not all idyllic in the Maldives. The UN recently found over 30% of Maldivian children under 5 suffering from malnutrition, as fresh fruit and vegetables go directly to tourist islands, bypassing local people. And nearly 50% of the local population are said to be living in poverty.
With resorts in the delicate ecosystems of the Maldives, Phuket, Bintan and Seychelles, Banyan Tree appears to be striving for environmental and social responsibility. The resorts are built using natural indigenous materials, mostly supplied by local traders. Whatever the location of each particular resort, the surrounding ecosystem, be it rainforest or coral reef, was carefully protected during construction. Marine Conservation is a big program. Full time marine biologists are on staff, at the island resorts, to give lessons to visitors, before escorted snorkel tours of lagoons. Turtles are hand reared for ...... for a year and half before release and subsequent satellite tracking. Guests are also engaged in reef cleaning. The local community are employed in tropical disease eradication and in the production of gifts made of natural, indigenous and recyclable materials. No shell or ivory products are carried in support for animal rights. Plastics are eliminated from the shelves as far as possible, including product packaging. Refillable containers are used for non-toxic, biodegradable toiletries. Banyan Tree have won numerous awards for eco-tourism. Not for thin wallets though, with rates starting around $800 per night. ::Banyan Tree [by WM]