In a quick turnaround following an outcry from the country’s resorts, the president of the Maldives has reversed a decision to ban spa services in the island nation on religious grounds.
The country’s Supreme Court will vote on the constitutionality of the ban, which also included the sale of alcohol and pork, on Wednesday. Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed said he expects the court to rule that the law is unconstitutional.
“We have lifted the ban and all the services will be available for tourists,” President Nasheed told Reuters on Wednesday. “We wanted to give confidence to tourists.”
Hotel companies operating in the Maldives had largely ignored the ban and continued to offer on-property spa services this week, and the country’s tourism association had filed a lawsuit against the government seeking to overturn the ban. Properties operated by Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts, Villa Hotels and Minor Hotel Group all continued to operate their spas despite the ban.
“Anantara’s spas are operating as per normal until a clear outcome is reached,” said Dillip Rajakarier, Minor Hotel Group CEO.
The ban was essentially a political dispute between the president and the opposition Adhaalath Party, which has called for the stricter implementation of Islamic law in the relatively liberal Muslim country.