Tourism Trade

As part of my campaign to encourage the young recruits to get out in the street and report, I went with Maryam Zaima to one of the many businesses in Male making hand-painted t-shirts. The tourists who buy these on the resort islands may not realize that each is a handmade piece of real art by a real artist. It was fascinating to watch the images of sharks, rays, reefs and idyllic beaches come alive at the ends of their brushes.
Zaima (I’ve nickednamed her Xee) is only 17, but eagerly asks for feedback on all her scripts and will be a good reporter once she gets over some initial shyness. After a few tries, she did a standup like a pro. But she’s still basically a teenager. She’s inviting my 17 year old son to be her friend on facebook!
The tourism ministry says tourism was up 12.3 percent last year, when 675,889 visitors came to Maldives. That’s double the entire population and accounts for 28 percent of the GDP, or $240 million, according to the government.
The t-shirt artist says he needs more help from the government in reaching this booming market. Oh yeah, he is also Zaima’s cousin. The problem is that in such a small country you can’t prohibit people from doing stories on their distant relatives, because the whole place seems interconnected. So we’re saying no stories on your immediate family, and leaving it there.
Update: The field tape has disappeared from Zaima’s desk. We don’t know if it was stolen or simply misplaced. If anyone in the Male newsroom happens to see it, please return it to me. there will be no questions asked.