31 Dec 2011

Hotel spas banned after protests

7:42 am on 31 December 2011

The Maldives has ordered hundreds of luxury hotels to close their spas after protests by an Islamist party which claimed they were a front for prostitution.

All resort hotels across the islands were ordered on Thursday to shut their spas and health centres immediately.

The Adhaalath party staged protests in the capital Male last week accusing spas of being used as brothels.

Tourism is a significant foreign exchange earner in the Maldives. More than 850,000 tourists have visited the islands this year.

The Maldives Association of Tourism Industry said the ban would harm the economy. It has appealed for a resolution of the issue.

President Mohamed Nasheed last week called for a "tolerant" form of Islam and rejection of religious extremism.