Mahloof takes lead to assist tourists stranded on the streets in hotel booking scam

Minister of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment, Ahmed Mahloof. (File Photo/Sun)

Youth Minister Ahmed Mahloof has provided assistance for the tourists who were scammed by a party into coming to the Maldives under the pretense of a hotel booking – leaving them stranded on the streets upon their arrival subsequent to the non-existence of a place of accommodation.

The group consisted totally of 30 people – out of which 13 of them were children between the ages of one and ten. All of them stood helpless on the streets as late as 01:00 last night – as they did not have a place to stay at. However, they have now been moved to FAM’s accommodation block at Hulhumale’ City.

Members of the general public have highly praised the efforts by Minister Mahloof, Controller of Immigration Mohamed Ahmed Hussain (Hanafy), Maldivian Red Crescent volunteers, and State Minister at Youth Ministry Assad Ali (Adubarey) in the provision of assistance to the tourists who fell victim to the scam while they remained helpless on the streets last night. A lot of local bystanders also provided assistance to the stranded tourists in terms of food and water.

Speaking to Sun today, Mahloof noted that he came across a photo of the tourists on Twitter – following which he had gone to the site along with his wife Nazra Naseem and State Minister Assad.

Mahloof further detailed that by the time they had arrived, Hanafy and volunteers of the Red Crescent were already at the scene – working hard to find solutions. He added that the decision to provide them temporary accommodation at the FAM’s accommodation block was taken by State Minister Assad.

“We did check whether guesthouses and hotels situated at nearby islands to Male’ were free in order to accommodate the Eagles team. But they were all full when we checked. So, I realized that it would not be easy to find a place of accommodation for these tourists. There were little children there. That is why I went to help. I am in suspension, however. That is why State Minister Assad had officially taken the decision to move them to Hulhumale’. We took them there, helped them settle. It was dawn by the time everything was settled and we left,” he had said.

Mahloof also commended the efforts by Hanafy and Red Crescent volunteers in providing assistance to the tourists. He also added that the tourists had repeatedly highlighted locals’ kindness towards them to him.

“I just took part and assisted in the work everyone was already doing,” he added.

Mahloof had also rendered assistance to local families that were impacted by the pandemic – to help them find shelter.

As per information received to Sun, the Police have arrested four in connection to the hotel booking scam – which includes Bangladeshi nationals. However, the Police or any other government institutions have yet to make an official statement regarding the arrests.

Tourism Minister Abdulla Mausoom has shared his concerns regarding the scam – labeling it as an act of human trafficking rather than tourism.