The year 2022 began with the launch of homestay tourism in Maldives – a travel segment new to the island nation known for its luxury resorts. The first visitors under the homestay concept are staying in M. Dhiggaru, an inhabited island in northern Maldives known for offering exemplary hospitality.
The first homestay tourism visitors are American couple - Julie Mac and Kyle Hand, a Sudanese couple, and Catherine Haswell - the UN Resident Coordinator for Maldives.
Julie shared her experience in Dhiggaru in a Facebook post on Sunday.
Julie said that she and her husband Kyle were asked to participate in the launch of homestay tourism in Maldives two days back.
Julie noted that Maldives had never offered the opportunity for tourists to stay with local families before.
"Maldives never offered this type of experience or housing opportunity to tourists before. Most tourists coming to the Maldives are transported to a luxury resort and are not ever exposed to local culture, customs, and ways of life," she said.
Julie said that she and her husband loved homestays, and it had always been their preferred way to travel.
They accepted the opportunity.
Julie and Kyle arrived in Dhiggaru with the other tourists on Saturday evening.
She described the people of Dhiggaru as the kindest people they ever met.
“They have welcomed us into their homes and their lives in a way that has made us feel like family. We have learned about their school and health care systems, their culture, and their ways of life. This is exactly why we love traveling and why traveling and meeting new people is so important,” she said.
Julie said they would never forget the warm welcome they received from the people of Dhiggaru.
“Some moments we will never forget are the warm welcome from everyone in the town and the smiles from the men, women and children. The beautifully colored dresses worn by the women. The traditional Maldivian singing and dancing and seeing the councilmen out there dancing!” she said.
Julie said it was also incredible seeing and learning about the process of making Rihaakuru – something the people of Dhiggaru are famous for.
She thanked the Tourism Ministry, Dhiggaru Council, their host family at Moorithi Homestay, and the friends they made during their stay in Dhiggaru for an experience she said they would never forget.