Hotels forced to shut down spas across Maldives
Government bans massage parlours after "prostitution" allegations
Hotel resorts in the Maldives have been issued a government order to shut down all spas and massage parlours, following allegations by an opposition Islamist party that they are being used for "prostitution".
The tourism ministry last week instructed all resort hotels across the hundreds of islands that make up the Maldives to shut down spas and health centres offering beauty treatments and massages with immediate effect.
Last week the opposition Adhaalath party, a conservative religious movement, staged a protest in the capital Male against spas, arguing that they were being used as brothels.
Tourism is a key pillar of the economy for the Maldives islands and 850,000 tourists have so far visited the Indian Ocean country this year. The Maldives Association of Tourism Industry said the ban will badly harm the economy and has appealed for a resolution of the issue.
Last week Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed called for a "tolerant" form of Islam in the country amid growing concern about the influence of hardline Islamic parties.