A 78-year-old Australian man who was staying at the Velidhoo resort in Alif Alif atoll was found dead in the island’s lagoon on Tuesday.
The suspected case of drowning was reported to police around 5 pm. It is believed to be the seventh death of a tourist this year.
There were 31 drowning incidents in 2017.
Five tourists, including a Filipino couple on their honeymoon, drowned in a single week last month, prompting the authorities to appeal for safety precautions during swimming, snorkelling or water sports as currents are strong during the north-eastern monsoon. Police advised extra caution when children or adults who cannot swim go into the water.
The tourism ministry has since launched inspections of all tourist facilities and promised discussions with island councils to designate safe swimming areas.
“Regular monitoring must be done to ensure that regulations are followed. Some of these regulations are very outdated. They need to be modernised,” Tourism Minister Ali Waheed told the press earlier this month.
Unlike resort islands, tourists who stay at guesthouses on local islands are often unaccompanied when they go swimming or snorkelling. Warning signs about currents and water depth are also rare.
Currents are unusually strong this year, the presidents of the Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operations and the Guesthouse Association of Maldives told TTG Asia last week.
According to a manager of a high-end resort, an independent two-day health and safety audit is conducted annually on most new resorts as part of agreements with tour operators such as Kuoni and Thomas Cook.
Earlier this month, a 45-year-old Chinese tourist drowned in Robinson Club resort and a 40-year-old Russian tourist died in late January during a diving trip.
An 84-year old man from the Czech Republic and a 66-year-old South Korean drowned at the Paradise resort.
The honeymooning couple from the Philippines drowned while swimming near the Dhiffushi island. They were staying at a guesthouse on the local island.
After decades of the ‘one resort, one island’ model, the mid-market tourism sector has been steadily growing since the first guesthouse opened on a local island in 2010.
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Source URL: Maldives Independent