Maldives tourism minister sacked for alleged sexual offences

The Maldives President has sacked the country’s Tourism Minister Ali Waheed, after female employees in his office accused him of sexual offences, news agency Associated Press reported on Thursday.

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih had called for the resignation of Ali Waheed and then sacked him after he failed to step down on his own, presidential spokesman Ibrahim Hood said.

Police confirmed receiving complaints of sexual misconduct by Waheed. An archipelago state in the Indian Ocean, Maldives is known for its luxury tourist resort islands. 

The development has come at a time, when Maldives is preparing to reopen to international visitors (including American travellers) from July 15 with no restrictions. Travellers will not have to show a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival or pay a fee for a 30-day tourist visa.

Guests who don’t have symptoms will not be required to quarantine. They will need to fill out a health declaration card once they land, wear masks and sanitize their hands at the airport, and practice social distancing. All visitors to the Maldives will also undergo thermal screening to check for potential fevers when they arrive.

According to a report by Forbes, a handful of resorts and private islands in the Maldives are already open, including the Four Seasons at Voavah, Lily Beach Resort & Spa, Soneva Fushi Resort and Velaa Private Islands. More than 30 other resorts including Banyan Tree, Hardrock Hotel and Cocoon Maldives are set to reopen between July 15 and July 25.