The tourism ministry instructed all resort hotels across the country's 1,192 tiny coral islands to shut their spas and health centres with immediate effect.
The opposition Adhaalath party, a socially conservative movement whose website features an article criticising "lustful music", staged protests in the capital Male last week accusing spas of being used as brothels.
"An Islamic party has been agitating against spas hoping to embarrass the government," an official told AFP by telephone, confirming the ministry order but asking not to be named.
Tourism is a key foreign exchange earner in the Maldives, a popular high-end destination for well-heeled honeymooners where luxury rooms can cost up to $11,872 a day.
The Indian Ocean country this year received more than 850,000 tourists, drawn to its secluded islands known for turquoise blue lagoons, flourishing corals and reefs filled with multi-coloured fish.
But the government bowed to the pressure less than a week after President Mohamed Nasheed called for a "tolerant" form of Islam in his nation of 330,000 people, who by law are all Muslims.
He urged Maldivians to reject religious extremism and support the more liberal "traditional form" of Islam that has been practised in the Maldives for centuries.
"I asked you to come here in support of the middle, tolerant path," Nasheed, who came to power in the country's first democratic elections in 2008, told ruling party supporters last week.
The government move to shut spas will directly affect an opposition leader, Gasim Ibrahim, head of the Jumhoory Party, who owns five, the independent Minivan news website reported.
It said they were asked to shut down this week before the government's blanket ban on Thursday, and the companies had sought court intervention to remain in business. Thursday's order applied to all spas in the country. (AFP)
Means a shot in the arm for prostitution in Sri Lanka.
Gonta Sunday, 01 January 2012 09:30 PM
Don't worry, for all your extremism, you're still sinking under the ocean. Sad, but true. Get used to living in Australia now itself and stop being so extremist.
nimal Sunday, 01 January 2012 11:26 AM
stone age mentality......
be true Sunday, 01 January 2012 10:42 AM
does maldives govt try to protect fundamentalism in islam? Or trying to stay in power by showing the difference between Halaal & haram? Can the maldives govt prove that maldives is a 100% islamic country?
Luck Sunday, 01 January 2012 07:28 AM
Economic development, Attracting more and more tourists while preserving religion and culture will never go align. If we want more money from tourists, we will have to engage little little dirty stuff to their packages. Besides, Spas in top hotels are not brothels.
faqi Sunday, 01 January 2012 07:19 AM
I am amazed that the government of the Maldives gave into these irrational demands by a religious group, with no proof whatsoever. It definitely will be a detriment to tourism. All over the world most hotels have spars.
Sharuk Sunday, 01 January 2012 05:29 AM
This is nothing but the rise of terrorism in the island. It should not be another Bali.
Aristotle Sunday, 01 January 2012 02:05 AM
Come to Sri Lanka, we have everything underground.
jack Sunday, 01 January 2012 01:58 AM
good move. citizen priority first.
SL Sunday, 01 January 2012 12:51 AM
Good opportunity for Sri Lanka.
Concerned Saturday, 31 December 2011 08:58 PM
Bye Bye Tourists, Why go there? When they see the losses then change their minds, same here.
asoka Saturday, 31 December 2011 08:55 PM
Good now they can come to Sri Lanka. Bring the gays too.
be true Saturday, 31 December 2011 07:41 PM
more than a massage is happening in male city almost every day & night. Look at the mirror maldives people!
Willy Saturday, 31 December 2011 04:27 PM
Now they too might return to Sti Lanka & look for jobs.
sltk2004 Saturday, 31 December 2011 05:18 AM
Now is the chance for us...
Arachchi Saturday, 31 December 2011 03:41 PM
That's sad...Such religious groups bring nothing but poverty to a country
Thomas Saturday, 31 December 2011 03:26 PM
BAD NEWS FOR MALDIVES TOURISM
niyaz noordeen Saturday, 31 December 2011 02:22 PM
AS A MUSLIM i DON'T ITS RIGHT TO PAINT ALL SPAS AS FRONTS FOR PROSTITUTION. WE NEED TO MORE PARTIAL AND NOT BE JUDGMENTAL. MUSLIMS ALL OVER THE WORLD ARE GETTING A BAD NAME BECAUSE OF LAWS THAT ARE AT THE EXTREMES. WE DON'T NEED TO AGGRAVATE THE SITUATION BY CLOSING THEM JUST BECAUSE SOMEONE THINKS THAT THEY PLAY "LUSTFUL MUSIC"
Nodrog Saturday, 31 December 2011 12:33 PM
Again, fanatics having their way and common sense taking a back seat!
kondebendapucheena Saturday, 31 December 2011 10:08 AM
Good Sign for our Country Tourism,must take profit from this LAW
Saman Saturday, 31 December 2011 09:51 AM
Good For Sri Lanka Tourism
ampare son Saturday, 31 December 2011 09:11 AM
yesterday BBC news say daily basis harass to tourists in the negombo area.we have to protect tourisum industry.
Sober-guy Saturday, 31 December 2011 07:42 AM
Spas in Sri Lanka too need to be inspected to see if they are up to any illegal activities.
Amila Saturday, 31 December 2011 06:54 AM
I am in Maldives and work in a hotel. This is just a news and spas of the resorts operate freely.
upul Saturday, 31 December 2011 06:49 AM
Come to Sri Lanka
Kenny G Saturday, 31 December 2011 06:08 AM
These extremists are dragging the world towards stone age.
Nodrog Saturday, 31 December 2011 05:44 AM
the start of extremism in Maldives?
Anil Saturday, 31 December 2011 05:25 AM
Pork is serving in all tourist hotels in Maldives and pork is banned meat in muslim region.
Why Maldivian govt not banning pork which is more affected than spas
citizen1 Saturday, 31 December 2011 05:21 AM
Maldives has gone nuts too!
The God Father Saturday, 31 December 2011 05:18 AM
The new law will be that the Maldivian women will not be allowed to work in the spas, this will force to import women from countries like India and srilanka. May God save our women.
Comments will be edited (grammar, spelling and slang) and authorized at the discretion of Daily Mirror online. The website also has the right not to publish selected comments.