Concern mounts among Addu residents over prolonged closure of Shangri-La resort

Shangri-La Villingili Resort. (Photo/Shangri-La)

Concern continues to mount among Addu residents over the prolonged closure of Shangri-La resort and Herathera resort – key sources of income in the region which were shut down in face of millions in losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Addu councilor Mohamed Faisal told Sun the sudden closure of Shangri-La and Herathera left over a hundred resort workers from Addu unemployed, unable to afford their basic needs.

Faisal said that the sudden mass lay-off of so many Addu residents have resulted in severe economic and social implications.

“The minimum monthly earning of Addu residents from Shangri-La back in 2017 was MVR 1.7 million. That is excluding service charge. Over a hundred people worked there. Each of them with families. Based on the salary alone, this is a loss of MVR 3-4 million per month,” he said.

Faisal said the council has repeatedly raised concern over the hardships faced by Addu residents due to the prolonged closure of the two resorts with government officials and parliamentarians.

“The council specifically highlighted the Shangri-La case when we met with the Finance Minister. The issue in Addu. He said that the government had discussions with Shangri-La’s Vilingili investment company and that they were working on signing an agreement. We didn’t receive an update after that,” he said.

Faisal said the council also raised concern over the issue with Tourism Minister Dr. Abdulla Mausoom.

He said that Mausoom told the council the government would provide a timeline for the reopening of Shangri-La before Tourism Day celebrations in Addu.

“The minister told us he would give us a timeline for Shangri-La’s reopening before Tourism Day is celebrated in Addu. He said a job fair would be held during Tourism Day celebrations in Addu. And that the job fair would also include employment opportunities in Shangri-La,” he said.

Canareef Resort Maldives, in Herathera, Addu City.

Faisal said that when the council shared its concerns over the prolonged closure of Shangri-La and Herathera, Finance Minister Ibrahim Ameer told the council that discussions were going ahead at full speed regarding Shangri-La’s reopening, and gave hope to Addu residents.

Faisal noted that the Herathera resort has suffered severe damage due to lack of use and maintenance over such a prolonged period of time, and said he does not believe the resort will open anytime soon.

The spouse of a former Shangri-La worker who was laid off when the resort closed down last year told Sun that the family has been cut off from their source of income, and are facing a hard time meeting their basic needs.

“We are having a hard time since my husband was laid off. He was unable to find employment elsewhere. We barely cover our basic needs with the money my husband makes from fishing,” she said.

She said that she is sad the government doesn’t seem to be aware that so many Addu residents have lost their employment and are living in fear and anxiety.