Monday, August 23, 2010

Report suggests Maldives government to levy tax on tourists to fund environment conservation

In a report produced by the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) in collaboration with the College of Fisheries in Mangalore, India, Florida International University in Miami and the South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics (SANDEE) it is proposed that tourists, who travel Maldives, should pay an environmental tax to finance the country’s conservation programs.

The report, titled ‘User-based Financing of Environmental Conservation of the Maldivian Atolls’, says that lack of political will and budgetary resources are major obstacles for the implementation of the marine protection law.

The report also places a monetary value on the use of natural resources for tourism and proposes government to levy use-tax.

Specific threats to Maldives’ marine ecosystem comes from various development activities include near-shore reclamation, harbor construction, dredging and other island expansion activities, nutrient enrichment from sewage discharges from resorts and nearby islands causing algae growth on the reef.

Over-exploitation of reef fisheries also affects the corals indirectly for it decreases the number of herbivorous fishes that play a crucial role in the growth of coral reefs.

The report found a huge gap between the amount of economic value generated from nature based tourism and the amount used conserve atoll environment. Even small amount of tax levied on “tourist expenditure” on the islands or a “user fee” would enable the government to collect money for the atoll conservation.

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