Plastic Pollution, Marine Life and Sustainable Tourism with Secret Paradise Maldives, part 2

Following on from part one of Plastic Pollution, Marine Life and Sustainable Tourism with Secret Paradise Maldives we wanted to highlight some of the initiatives recently implemented by our accommodation partners on local islands.

All of our guesthouse accommodation is carefully selected to provide a balance of comfort, service, local atmosphere and value for money, as well as ensuring each property shares our values for responsible tourism and sustainability. So we are always delighted to see guesthouse partners coming together with tourists and local communities to make a difference.

Guraidhoo Island

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Guraidhoo is another forward thinking island with exciting eco initiatives introduced this year (2019). Their band new NO PLASTIC program has been introduced on the island and is being very well received by locals and visiting tourists. They knew when setting this up that the only way this would work is to involve all the community in the efforts including the local island children, local school, teachers, parents, Island council members, guesthouses, dive center, watersports center and the local island community.

They completed their first island clean up last month and collected a massive 1700kg of plastic; what amazing results – which ultimately will have a positive impact on our environment and the local island children’s futures, thanks guy and keep up the great work.

Guraidhoo Palm Inn our partner here have pledged to remove plastic drinking water bottles which is also forms part of our initiative in 2019 .

Dhigurah Island

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TME Retreat another property partner of Secret Paradise is taking the sustainable opportunities to a whole new level and as part of the #Earthday2019 celebrations they announced that TME Retreats will be producing its own water at Dhigurah. The water will be distributed to all the guests in refillable glass bottles and all guests will be able to fill their glass bottles from the water dispenser at the lobby free of charge.

Barefoot Eco Hotel

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The Barefoot Eco Hotel on Hanimaadhoo island has always followed the principles of eco-sustainability and conservation of the environment; that’s why we have always loved working with them. They actively educate their guests in reducing their eco footprint, their initiatives include:

  • Paper bio-degradable straws instead of plastic straws
  • Aluminium cans instead of plastic bottles
  • Reusable Aluminium bottles for senior staff
  • Yogurt served in ceramic cups instead of single use plastic containers
  • No more plastic bags: only juta or fabric bags
  • No more plastic sachets of coffee: Coffee now comes in paper bags

But how do you make a difference as a tourist when travelling abroad?

Most individuals are now trying to do their bit in the war against single use plastic particularly, but how can you continue your positive actions when travelling and at the mercy of the people and places visited?

Bring your own shopping bag

In the not so distant past here in the Maldives, every shop you made a purchase in, you were given a blue plastic bag. This is starting to be addressed but make life a little easier for the shop keepers and bring your own re-useable bag and say no to these wasted items.

Leeann and her friends showing nostraw needed to enjoy a kurumba on yesterday's Male walking tour

Say no to single-use plastic straws

If you are buying a drink in a café or bar say no to the plastic straw. We would love to give kudos to the places you visit who are embracing this so make sure you take a snap and #strawwasMV.

Bring your own water bottle

When you are travelling especially in the heat, you must stay hydrated but you don’t need to keep purchasing single use plastic bottles, ask a local café or bar to refill your water bottle. The local accommodation you stay in will be sure to assist you.

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Choose plastic-free destinations

If you are really serious about reducing your carbon footprint then choose destinations and places where they are taking the sustainable approach seriously. Reward those businesses who are committed to making a difference in their environment, like the ones we mentioned above.

Participate in cleanups

Our team of tour guides regularly participant in beach clean ups with local island residents and we encourage our guests to join us too. It is a fantastic way to meet the local community and also make a massive difference to the amount of plastic waste in the ocean.

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Spread the word

Don’t be shy, let people know what you are doing, if everyone takes small steps daily together we will make a huge difference.  We need to create awareness and let people know what do to and how to do it.

If you want your holiday to make a real difference why not think about a volunteer based visit, we offer volunteer trips with our partner Sunshade Maldives as well as a 14 night island hopping volunteer tour.

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Women in Business, Eco Tourism & Sustainable Travel

Ruth Franklin is the co-founder of Secret Paradise Maldives and together with her energetic and engaging team of local guides, they have been leading local island Maldives tours since 2012. Ruth was recently interviewed about being a women in business in the Maldives and here is what she said:

Tell us more about Secret Paradise Maldives

We partner 25 guesthouses on 15 islands across 8 atolls. The properties we partner are owned and in the main operated by local island families where everyone is instrumental in the day to day running of the guest house ensuring profits are directed back into local hands. We are also using services developed and managed by locals which in turn provides employment and business opportunities for local people.

Sustainability What are your key communities? How does your organization actively support and strengthen these communities? 

Local communities are crucial to sustainable tourism and this has always been the foundation of the Secret Paradise offer.

We have built over a period of time what I would see as three key communities.

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Our local island partner community

We chose to work with only selected guesthouses in order that we could build strong relationships. This has resulted in us being able to support them from a business management and marketing perspective in the very beginning, to them supporting us in our sustainable tourism wish list such as the removal of plastic straws, the introduction of water coolers to minimize the use of plastic bottles which is a project we are working on this year.

The feedback we have received from the families with whom we work closely is that they are proud to be able to provide such opportunities . At first they could not understand why we would want our guests to interact with them, share meals and visit their home.  Now they understand that their everyday practices are of interest to international visitors. Our role with the local communities has been to highlight that not all tourists are visiting for an affordable beach holiday and that many are looking to get under the skin of the country and learn about culture and traditions. For me this is important as these traditions need to be kept alive.

Our NGO community  

We seek out ways to open up channels to allow NGO organisations the opportunity to interact with guests and in so doing increase their exposure to a wider audience. Many of our tours involve some form of conservation awareness or activity. Our guests spend time with NGOs gaining an insight into the conservation challenges that face local islands or social challenges that people within the local community may face. We offer opportunities for guests to get involved if they wish, supporting local conservationists on coral nurseries,  attending beach cleans or events held within the community. Even on our Villimale day tour our guides and guests can be seen collecting rubbish as they explore the island. As a business we try where ever possible to support environmental events organised by our NGO partners both financially and in person and a proportion of the tour cost is provided in the form of a donation to their funds.

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Our employee community  

Tourism has seen an increase in demand for experiential travel opportunities. Meeting and travelling with local people and seeing the Maldives through their eyes allows guests to connect with locals and enhance their trip. No one should know the Maldives better than a Maldivian and hence why with the exception of myself the Secret Paradise team is 100% local.

We provide good working  conditions, the opportunity to travel, a fair wage and performance reviews for local employees. Our guides achieve personal development through interaction with guests from different cultures and backgrounds. They also have the opportunity to participate in tour leader development programs available from our international partners.

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How do you consider societal well-being and benefit as part of your strategy and daily operations?

I came from a 30 year retail background and therefore my tourism knowledge was based on my own experiences as a traveler as well as my desire to give back to the people who had welcomed me into their homes when I visited the Maldives myself as a tourist.

When Secret Paradise was formed in 2012 local tourism was at the beginning of it’s journey and I was conscious that however we developed the business we needed to be mindful of ensuring we promoted local tourism in line with Maldivian culture and beliefs. With this in mind our core strategy was formed and has over time developed on the basis of three values – economic responsibility, social responsibility and environmental responsibility.

I am a great believer in keeping it simple and as a small business we needed to recognize that it was far better to build a solid foundation of a few key principals that could be followed through and kept alive than produce a manifesto or sustainable tourism standard operating practice that would gather dust on a shelf.

We drew up three key actions for each value.

Economically:

To use locally owned and operated tourism infrastructure.

To use wherever possible business services in country which are operated by locals and not out source to businesses aboard.

To provide employment for local people.

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Socially:

For a local guide to travel with our guests from time of arrival to departure.

To educate our guests on local history, customs and cultural practices and provide opportunities for guests to engage with the local community in some format.

To actively support local communities, NGOs and environmental organisations.

Environmentally:

To limit the physical impact of trips and work with our partners to educate and improve awareness within local the community.

To brief all our guests on the Green fin snorkeling etiquette

To encourage our guests to deal with waste appropriately, to lead by example and where possible take plastic waste home.

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We are fortunate that we are in a position that our business model allows societal well being to form part of our day to day practice.

Our guests stay in local island guest houses. We utilise local transportation providers as opposed to owning our own vehicles.

Our guests eat at local cafes, regularly enjoy evening tea – hedikaa, we buy food items for our tours from the local market and we encourage guests to purchase locally made souvenirs, all this mean means that local individuals and small businesses benefit.

We encourage our guests through briefings and general conversation to respect the environment and lead by example, for example to refuse plastic straws and bags.

We carry out annual audits of our guesthouse properties that includes a review of responsible and sustainable practices and we offer support and advice on improvements. Our guides provide a trip report following each tour which amongst other things will highlight best practice or improvement opportunities. Our guests complete feedback forms which again include the opportunity to feedback and comment on sustainable practices.

We hold regular training sessions with our guiding team and provide opportunities for their education and development. For example the team recently spent two days with Coral Doctors learning more about coral and reef rehabilitation and we have a planned session on the importance of seagrass up and coming.

Our social media feeds include images and information that are locally inspired. We highlight historical facts, religious festivals, national holidays, food, wildlife and overviews of local islands. We share and celebrate environmental best practices such as beach cleans by local communities, awareness days and community news that we feel would be of interest to our followers.

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We provide guests with pre trip information as part of the booking process to ensure they understand the requirements of travelling to a locally inhabited island. Content provides information on local customs and requirements, particularly in relation to religion, dress, food and beverages and upon arrival they receive a further briefing from one of our guiding team which includes environmental and cultural awareness and highlights the opportunities they may have during the time with us to support local environmental initiatives.

With local island tourism continuing to grow my dream would be that government policies would be brought into place to regulate and provide accreditation to properties across a number of standards but with sustainable practices playing a significant role.

For more details about Secret Paradise <<contact us here>>

Plastic Pollution, Marine Life and Sustainable Tourism with Secret Paradise Maldives; part 1

Raising awareness about environmental issues seems to be on everyone ‘s agenda these days. But we all need to understand that this is not a short term project that needs a year or two focus only to fall by the way side when a new trend emerges.

But how do we all keep focused and ensure our efforts are not in vain?

At Secret Paradise we educate our guests in ways that encourage them to support local hotel and guest house programs. Our tour guides are our ambassadors, they lead by example every day in and out of work. For myself having worked and managed teams of over 200 people I have plenty of experience in how to continue to motivate and re-focus my team on our mission to make long lasting environmental change. These topics need to be spoken about on a regular basis, new initiatives need to be implemented and the existing initiatives need to be boosted every once in a while to bring it back to focus.

For example, in 2018 we launched our #strawwarmv initiative where local guest house owners and business operators were encouraged to replace the use of plastic straws in their business with other alternatives. We were delighted with the positive response we received from our local island partners, people all over were posting their photos online and tagging us using #strawwarmv. With our partner guest house owners fully committed to working with us to make sustainable changes we have challenged ourselves to look for additional ways we can work in partnership with properties to make changes.

Today on the last day of their Beach Break tour, Kavitha and her family were happy to join strawwarsmv and enjoy a coconut the traditional way, drunk without the aid of a plastic straw

This year we are taking our sustainable initiatives to the next level by introducing water coolers into a number of  our local guest houses encouraging our guests to re-fill their water instead of buying new bottles each day. This is something that is being introduced worldwide including in many popular coffee shops offering a small discount if the customer brings in their own travel mugs. It’s simple; it really doesn’t take that much effort but it will make such a huge positive impact on our environment not just in the Maldives but worldwide if we all make these small changes.

Working with local island guest house partners means that we also support a sustainable local community. You can image that with many islands as small as 1-2 square kilometres there is only so much employment available for local people. Many of them over the years have left their families to work in resorts but with the introduction of mindful tourism it means families have a choice and don’t have to live apart from one another because job opportunities are now available for them locally. You may wonder what do we mean by mindful tourism? Well many countries around the world have adapted to cater for the needs of tourists, this often means losing their local culture and traditions. At Secret Paradise we are determined to help maintain Maldivian traditions and local island culture by allowing our guests to be exposed to them through local island tours and engagement with locals. It benefits our guests greatly as they leave with a greater understanding of the Maldives and are also welcomed as family into the island homes, having the opportunity to learn how to cook a local meal and even dine alongside a local family. These amazing feasts are not to be missed! We’ve even had guests attend local birthday parties and weddings!

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Because we employ only local island tour guides it opens a new channel of communication between visiting tourists and local island people. They are keen to learn about their island visitors as our guests are to learn about their host’s local island life! This intrigue often results in islanders inviting guests and our tour guide into their homes, sharing stories and history of  each others cultures. Where else do you get to experience something so unique, educational and inspiring? For me it is essential that these traditions are kept alive and that the local islands never lose their culture and uniqueness. After all we are visitors to their country and their environment.

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In our next blog we will continue to showcase initiatives we have and are implementing at Secret Paradise in order to create a more sustainable environment in the Maldives.

To see our responsibility tourism policies <<click here>>

Banning Plastic Straws Will Not Be Enough: We Need To Clean The Ocean

There is a huge call to ban plastic straws all over the world and even celebrities have used their voices in the attempt to make this initiative known to a much wider audience and gain traction and support. Big brands such as Starbucks and Disney have joined the movement to ban straws as well. *Supporters of the plastics ban say that every year, more than 35 million tons of plastic pollution is produced worldwide and about a quarter of that ends up in the water.

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**Straws are consistently on the top 10 lists for marine debris collected every year during International Coastal Cleanups and the Maldives is no different as we have found from our own experience of beach clean ups. It is estimated that by 2050 there will be more pieces of plastic in our ocean than fish (Secret Paradise Maldives). Last year alone, 1.4 million tourists visited the Maldives with each guest staying an average of 6 days. If each of those guests only had one drink served with a straw per day during their stay that is 8.4 million straws and that is most likely a conservative estimate.

That’s quite a staggering number if you think of it in this scale. When we use straws, we actually don’t really realize the effect of it to our environment. Thinking of it in this proportion and spreading such awareness, does really make you think. But will simply banning straws be enough to save our oceans? The answer is obviously NO! There needs to be a collective and conscious effort across individuals, businesses, organizations and governments as a whole.

Leeann and her friends showing nostraw needed to enjoy a kurumba on yesterday's Male walking tour

We think we could definitely do more than just refusing to use straws or banning the use of straws. On World Environment Day, June 5th 2018, Secret Paradise Maldives we invited all our partner guesthouse properties to pledge to STOP the use of plastic drinking straws in their guest houses.

However, there’s another problem hiding in plain view and that is the presence of micro-plastics in our oceans. Micro-plastics are the degraded particles sometimes seen floating as giant globs in the ocean being devoured by fish and seabirds. Imagine that on a larger scale and realize that these micro-plastics are degrading our oceans. At this point though, actions on an individual scale wouldn’t be felt anymore. There needs to be a massive and widespread awareness across all sectors and banning straws whilst a start is simply not enough.

What Else Can We Do At This Point?

We are living in a period of extraordinary times where plastics are all over us and the population dependence of plastics, especially on single-use plastics, is really alarming. We need concrete measures to rise above just banning straws. Here are some suggested steps that we and others feel could have a bigger impact:

  1. Make the producers pay for their waste. When we say pay, it should involve a hefty amount of money so they will be more responsible in their manufacturing practices.
  2. Make the consumers pay premium for plastics. – Increase the prices for plastics so people think twice before using it.
  3. Cut waste – shift from an opt-out to an opt-in model. Teach people responsibility, provide awareness and education.
  4. Go after the bigger cause, the root cause. – We need to look at the systems in place and determine where the disconnect is. Determine what we can do to solve the problem about cleaning our ocean at a much larger and effective way because let’s face it, just banning straws will not magically clean our oceans.
  5. Start a movement and make it less effort, more impact. – ***Environmentalists hope the movement will stir a larger conversation about runaway plastics pollution. Straw bans alone — which have been criticized for not truly reducing waste — will barely dent the flood of plastic spewing into the environment each year.
  6. Declare a massive clean-up drive. – Mobilize everyone to help clean our oceans – schedule a worldwide clean-up day and make sure to implement sustainable measures.

****To understand the magnitude of the environmental dilemma facing Earth, consider the explosion in the use of plastic bottles. Beverage companies produced 239 billion plastic bottles in 2004. That total had more than doubled by 2017 to 494 billion, and the trend continues, with plastic bottle production predicted to hit 594 billion by 2022, according to the market research firm Euromonitor International. That means bottlers will be churning out more than 1.6 billion every day.

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What we are doing at Secret Paradise Maldives is a good start and we will continue to support other initiatives. “This we know is the start of a long journey, but a journey that we hope will gather momentum and support across all local islands, not just with our partner guesthouses but with other businesses too. Our guiding team continually monitor properties on their tour visits as well as when we complete our annual property audits. This ensures that each guesthouse maintains its commitment to our initiative and offer support as necessary.We also speak with our guests upon arrival to encourage them to refuse plastic straws and bags”

How about you? How do you think we can clean our oceans?

 

 

*https://www.philly.com/philly/opinion/commentary/banning-plastic-straws-and-bags-isnt-enough-to-save-our-oceans-opinion-20181009.html

**https://secretparadisemaldives.wordpress.com/2018/08/08/are-our-efforts-in-the-maldives-to-reduce-plastic-waste-really-worth-it/

***/****https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/banning-plastic-straws-will-not-be-enough-fight-clean-oceans-n951141

 

 

 

 

Are Our Efforts in the Maldives to Reduce Plastic Waste Really Worth It?

We are overwhelmed with the fantastic response from businesses and like minded travellers looking at ways to improve sustainability through sustainable initiatives like banning single use plastic straws in the Maldives and around the world. Everyone is discussing what we will lose if we don’t take action now, but what will we gain? Is there really any benefit to this massive international surge of environmental awareness and initiatives? We discuss here some exciting things we will gain from all our efforts:

Creating Employment

Once people get into the habit of bringing reusable bags when they are shopping people will seek more durable bags so they last longer, thus creating new job opportunities for manufacturing durable sustainable shopping bags, thus creating employment! In Male Maldives Authentic Crafts Cooperative Society (MACCS) an advocate for alternatives to single use plastic bags in the Maldives are producing bags for life and  working with corner stores, supermarkets and households to reduce the usage of single use plastic bags.

Image from Maldives Authentic Crafts Coop Society

 

Saving Energy with a More Efficient Production Process

To produce nine plastic bags it takes the equivalent energy of driving a car 1km. Considering the typical life span of a plastic bag is about 12 minutes of use, this is a very inefficient use of time, energy and products. Creating sustainable, reusable bags makes more sense and uses far less energy.

Happy Marine Life!

There is an estimated 46,000 to 1,000,000 plastic fragments floating within every square mile of the world’s ocean. Often they are mistaken for food by animals, birds, and marine life like fish and sea turtles. The consumed plastic then congests the digestive tracts of these animals, and can lead to health issues such as infections and even death by suffocation. By us all working together to reduce this waste, marine life, birds and other animals won’t have to suffer these terrible infections or slow painful deaths from excessive plastic waste. Meaning they will have a safer, happier environment to live in and both guests as well as those who live in the Maldives can continue to enjoy our marine life bio diversity.

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Healthy Humans

Plastic fragments in the ocean can absorb pollutants like PCBs and PAHs, which are known to be hormone-disrupting chemicals. These chemicals can be consumed and make their way through the ocean’s food chain which then pass into humans who eat fish and other marine organisms.Given that tuna forms part of the staple diet of Maldivians and that the fishing industry is also a key exporter of fish products, less pollutant means healthier humans!

 

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Money Saved on Clean Up Can Be Used For Other Things

A lot of time, money and selfless effort from individuals and groups are contributed to the efforts of ocean and beach clean ups. Image what this money could be spent on if we were no longer fighting the plastic battle. Not to mention the extra time we would all have on our hands! A week doesn’t go by where there is not a beach clean-up organised on at least one island in the Maldives. Let’s estimate that there is 50 people cleaning for 4 hours once a week;our conservative estimate is over 10,500 hours a year being donated for free time by locals and tourists. Together with the expense of rubbish collection bags, gloves and travel.

Saving Money on the Weekly Shopping

Plastic bags cost about 3-5 cents each to produce, and that cost is either incorporated into prices of the items sold at stores or you as the shopper have to pay for the bag, either way you as the consumer are absorbing all the costs of these plastic bags.  It is said that the average American shopper will use 500 bags per year, 80% of these are plastic. Image the money you will be saving if stores didn’t need to apply these additional costs into your shopping. More money to save for your vacations to the Maldives!

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Some Top Tip on Staying Plastic Free on Your Holiday to the Maldives

Reusable Containers

The popular traditional afternoon snack hedhikaa is enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. However take outs are often presented in the blue plastic bags. So by bringing your own reusable container you are refusing a single use plastic bag.

Refuse Plastic Straws

Let’s face it most of us don’t need to use a straw and those that do can use alternatives. So the next time you order a drink or enjoy a local coconut, refuse the plastic straw and tag us online #strawwarMV

Today on the last day of their Beach Break tour, Kavitha and her family were happy to join strawwarsmv and enjoy a coconut the traditional way, drunk without the aid of a plastic straw

Re-useable Water Bottles

So many more places are offering fresh, clean drinking water to re-fill your water bottle. So instead of drinking small bottles of water and throwing them out, re-fill your own water bottle.

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Join a Beach Clean Up

We know you are on your holidays when you visit the Maldives but as you will be visiting the local islands why no find out if there is a beach cleanup organised during your stay. We work closely with Save the Beach and The Cleaning Quest, if you let us know before you arrive we can incorporate it into your tour package.

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If you are yet to join the #strawwarMV campaign with us, then check out our blog here

Make sure you tag us in your efforts to refuse single use plastic straws and use the #strawwarMV and #letusguideyou. We will give you a re-tweet and shout out as a thank you.

 

Ref following website for info

https://www.quora.com/Why-cant-we-ban-plastics

https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/reasons-why-plastic-bags-should-be-banned.php

How You Can Help Sustainability and Eco Tourism in the Maldives

Eco tourism and sustainable tourism may be a hot topic in the travel industry at the moment but it has always been an integral part of our philosophy and part of our mission statement.

Secret Paradise tours are designed to allow our guests to experience the best from the paradise we call home, whilst ensuring that there is limited or no negative impact on the community or the environment.

We are committed to informing and demonstrating to our competitors, our team, our partners and ultimately our guests that we are committed to following social and environmental best practices.

 

At Secret Paradise we see this as an ongoing commitment in the development of sustainable tourism in the Maldives and pride ourselves that we were longlisted for the World Responsible Tourism Awards 2015.

The following are a few simple tips that require very little effort on your part during your holiday but which will help ensure that any effect you have on the locations you visit is positive rather than negative.

Reusing towels and saving electricity in your guest house

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It is seen all over the world in small and large hotels, businesses trying to reduce their carbon foot print and the Maldives is no different.Re-use your towels in your guest bedroom rather than having them refreshed each day. Turn off your air conditioning when you leave your room. Make sure all the lights are switched off. All small actions that will provide long term positive results to the environment for you and future generations.

Plastic in the Ocean

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The Maldives, like many countries has experienced a real challenge in recent years with plastic bottles, straws and plastic bags washing up on the beaches. Local Island residents are making huge efforts to work together with many islands organising regular beach clean ups. Education and awareness regarding littering and how to reduce the use of plastic in daily life has also started to be introduced led by NGOs and dive centres in particular. But as a tourist you can also help. Bring a re-useable bottle with you and re-fill your water bottles where possible. Take your own bags with you when you go shopping and refuse plastic bags every time you leave a shop. Remove packaging from newly acquired items before leaving home and consider taking home as much plastic waste as you can.

For more details on local initiatives check out http://www.savethebeachmaldives.org

Buy Local

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By staying in local island guest houses you are contributing to the local economy and increasing local employment. Local island guest houses in the Maldives are usually run by local island families where everyone is instrumental in the day to day running of the guest house. As a guest you benefit from meeting these local families and learning about their cultures and traditions; take it from us nothing beats Maldivian hospitality.

Buying local and eating local means that you are contributing to the local economy just like when you stay in the guest houses.  Buying locally made souvenirs and eating local produce means that local farmers and small businesses benefit.Don’t be afraid to ask where produce or souvenirs have originated as there unfortunately is still a lot of imported souvenirs on offer.

Leave no traces of your visit behind

Many people say ‘I am just one person how can I make a difference to the environment on my own?’But all you need to do is take responsibility for yourself and the people you are travelling with. Don’t leave litter on the beaches or around the islands. Don’t throw garbage over board when on the boats travelling around the islands. Lead by example and pick up rubbish and dispose in the nearest waste receptacle. Every small effort like this will have a positive effect on the future of our environment.

Leave the ocean as you found it

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As tempting as it is to take a piece of beautiful coral home or chase after the sea turtles, mantas or whale sharks and touch them – you are destroying the oceans natural habitat by doing these things. Maldives turtles and Whale sharks are endangered species and need protection. Feel free to view the beautiful underwater world of the Maldives but leave it where it is. The ocean life is wild and we want it to remain that way. The Maldives is one of the many countries affected by coral bleaching due to rising temperatures in the sea and global warming. Campaigns run by Save the Beach and local island guest houses like Eco Dive Club in Maafushi are working hard to rebuild these areas by planting coral nurseries and researching the effects of global warming.

More details on initiatives are here https://www.eco-diveclub.com/copy-of-courses

Respect local culture and dress codes

The Maldives is an Islamic country and tourists should respect cultural differences not try to change them, we are after all only guests in someone’s home. Dress respectably away from beaches, ask permission (and ladies cover your head) if you are visiting religious places. Note local dress codes and follow them. There is so much culture in the Maldives and the local island people love to share their traditions and culture with tourists so ask, learn and enjoy.

Want to help more?

Volunteer/beach clean up

Save The Beach Villingili Malives you.theworld.wandering

Many local islands are running initiatives like volunteer beach clean ups on a regular basis. Ask your Secret Paradise guide or guesthouse owner if there is one scheduled during your stay, it’s a great way to meet the local community and you are contributing to environmental clean ups.

How about learning more about the local communities and initiatives?

Secret Paradise Maldives and Sun sHADe Volunteers provide opportunities for responsible and meaningful working holidays in one of the most beautiful places in the world. More details about this program can be viewed here: https://secretparadise.mv/product/volunteer-local

Remember together we can make a difference #letusguideyou

You can also view our full Responsible Tourism Policy here

https://secretparadise.mv/responsible-tourism-policy

Island Hop and Help Clean Up the Environment in the Maldives

One of the tours we offer at Secret Paradise Maldives is an island hopping experience that allows guests to assist in local environmental projects. As part of our commitment to Eco Tourism and Responsible Tourism Policies we bring international tourists to the Maldives each year to become more educated about the growing environmental issues not only specific to the Maldives but around the world.

We were delighted to welcome a guest from the UK in January 2018, Sandra, island hopped between 4 islands and whilst on Maafushi spent time with the team at Eco Dive Club along with her guide Kamey.

Sandra’s trip included:

Snorkeling and Beginner Dive

Snorkeling with her guide Kamey to enjoy the wonders of the beautiful Indian Ocean. Sandra also over came her fear of diving completing a Discover Scuba dive, not only was she so delighted with her accomplishments but also we were so glad she got to try something she actually said she would never do!

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Beach Clean Up

Another day they went to Lily Rest beach front to do a beach cleanup. What they found was very concerning and a continuing problem on the beaches. They found bottle tops from water bottles, drinking straws and plenty of Supari papers (Supari is a fruit nut called Acrea, many locals chew this like many Westerners chew gum). A further beach clean of the same area is conducted later in the week to highlight how quickly rubbish can accumulate.

Eco Tour 3

Coral Watch

This exercise teaches our guests about the health of the coral reef. You don’t have to be a marine biologist to recognize and register your findings with the Australian Coral Watch database. There is a comparison table where you can check the health of the coral you find, the darker the colour of the coral the healthier it is.

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Learning About the Indian Ocean

Sandra met the team daily at the dive centre where she learned more about how the Maldives was ‘born’, the importance of fish species and so much more. The team love sharing their passion and knowledge with visitors.

Coral Nursery

At the Eco Dive Centre in Maafushi they have a coral project. The coral nursery in the lagoon is being regrown by attaching pieces of coral with cable ties to create a new coral frame! It’s initiatives like this thatallow guests to learn as well as assist with projectsthat keep the eco development alive in the Maldives. We hope that many more islands follow suit.

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During Sandra’s stay she learned so much about what they do at the Eco Dive Club. We asked Renee Sorensen, whose first experience of the Maldives was with Secret Paradise, from Eco Dive Club a few questions:

What is Eco Dive Club and how does it differ from a regular dive club?

Eco Dive Club, Maafushi is different from others – we are more environment oriented. We have a big passion for the ocean and the environment… we want to make a difference. We use nature every day when we are diving, so we want to give back to nature and especially the ocean. The ocean doesn’t need people, people need the ocean.  We arrange beach cleanups, reef clean ups, Crown of thorns clean ups, coral planting and work hard to inform everyone possible about the importance about the corals and the problem with trash and plastic.

What do you find have been the biggest changes to the ocean in the last 10 years?

The biggest change is that there is so much more plastic and trash

Far more dead corals, because of bleaching in 2015 and more recently, as well as due to reclamation and construction.

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Can tourists visiting the Maldives make a positive impact on the environment during their visit?

Tourists who are coming to the Maldives can make a big and positive impact. Tourists that are diving with us and assisting with projects are an inspiration for other tourists and locals. They spread the word both in the Maldives when they are here and when they come home. Then other tourists come, because they also want to help or join on coral planting and other environment activities.  Locals see that it will make a difference if we work together. Tourists that come will spread the awareness.

What suggestions would you make when someone is looking to book an eco friendly vacation?

If you want to make a difference, contact us for Eco active diving or Secret Paradise Maldives. We are both passionate about the environment. Secret Paradise has a lot experience here in Maldives and Ruth knows where to book your holiday eco friendly, or even if you want to join to assist in projects. You can be a diver or non diver, there is plenty to achieve both above and below the water!

Book your eco holiday now