The Fourth Amendment to the Regulation on the Operation of Guesthouses was published on 30 December 2021, beginning a new chapter for Maldivian tourism sector. Under the Amendment, it is now permitted to establish homestay tourist guesthouses in residential units (including houses and apartments) where people reside.
Homestay Guesthouse Permits
Homestay guesthouses can be operated after obtaining a permit from the Ministry of Tourism. Permits are to be granted for locally owned businesses for a renewable period of 5 years. However, foreign brands can be established under franchise models by the local businesses.
The Amendment further sets out the standards, resources and amenities that must be available from the homestay guesthouses. This includes the following:
- Maximum of 5 rooms (with a minimum floor area of 120 sq ft) are allowed to be operated under such establishments.
- Arrangements have to be made for visitors to contact the responsible person from the guesthouse throughout the day.
- Third-party liability insurance has to be obtained covering perils to tourists.
Newly added Annexure 6 details the standards and services that must be met by the guesthouses and the allocated rooms in such places.
Section 32-12 of the Amendment provides that permits for homestay guesthouses will only be granted for islands or cities meeting the below requirements:
- An Island Manager appointed by the Council being assigned as the head of the Island Tourism Desk. The Island Tourism Desk is responsible for overseeing the tourism establishments at the island level. Annexure 7 of the Regulation includes the responsibilities of the Tourism Island Desk.
- Enactment of policies in accordance with guidelines of the Ministry of Tourism detailing how tourism activities can be organised in the island and the basic standards to be abided by tourists.
- Eateries being available during usual hours (including Ramadan) and laundry services being available in the island.
- Plan being formulated by the Council to manage emergencies in the island.
Operation of the Homestay Guesthouse
The homestay guesthouses are to be operated in accordance with the Maldives Tourism Act (Law Number 2/99) and other applicable laws. The Operator is responsible for the payment of taxes levied on tourists, to MIRA. Further, the Operator is required to maintain basic records of the tourists in accordance with the Regulation.
The Amendment is in force from 30 December 2021