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Fair-haired island no blonde joke in Lithuania

 VILNIUS, Lithuania (AP) -- Empowering blondes or stereotyping them?

 The jury is out on a Lithuanian company that plans to build a ``fantasy resort'' staffed only by blondes in the Maldives.

 Olialia (pronounced Oh-la-LA) has created a business empire in Lithuania, using its troupe of glitzy models with platinum hair to market just about anything from potato chips to pop music. There's Olialia pizza and Olialia cola, even Olialia computers.

 With the Maldives resort _ and plans for an airline linking it to the Baltic republic _ Olialia is taking its blond ambition to a new level.

  ``Blond is light. It attracts people like sunshine,'' brand manager Lauryna Anuseviciute, a 24-year-old former model, explained at the Olialia office in downtown Vilnius.

   In Lithuania, where a big chunk of the population shares Anuseviciute's light hair color _ naturally or aided by peroxide _ such unabashed glorification of blond beauty doesn't raise many eyebrows.

   It remains to be seen how the Olialia concept will be received in the Maldives, a more ethnically diverse archipelago in the Indian Ocean, which requires foreign developers to hire at least 50 percent local staff.

   Maldives tourism officials said they had not received any details about Olialia's plans and had not issued any permits.

In this visual concept image made available by Lithuania's Olialia company Thursday Feb. 3, 2011, a shoe-shaped
In this visual concept image made available by Lithuania's Olialia company Thursday Feb. 3, 2011, a shoe-shaped "fantasy resort" staffed only by blondes in the Maldives is seen. It's unclear how the concept will be received in the Maldives, which requires foreign developers to hire at least 50 percent local staff. The resort plans are still in their infancy but brand manager Lauryna Anuseviciute insists Olialia already has secured financing. (AP-Yonhap)


   ``We welcome any serious innovations and investment for discussions so long as it is backed by serious finance with a robust and realistic business plan,'' Simon Hawkins, director of the Maldives Marketing and PR Corporation, wrote in an e-mail. He underlined ``realistic.''

   However, he didn't appear to see the blond requirement as a major hurdle for employees from the Maldives, saying ``perhaps they could work behind the scenes, or die their hair?''

   No need, according to Anuseviciute. ``Staff who are not blond will wear a blond wig to make everyone look similar,'' she said. The wig will be considered part of their uniform.

   Approximately 65 percent of the staff will be women, she said.

   The resort plans are still in their infancy _ the tentative launch date is 2015 _ but Anuseviciute insisted Olialia already has secured financing.

   Still, it won't miss a good chance to promote the project, like at next month's international real estate fair in Cannes, France.

Olialia plans to arrive in style, with 130 blondes flying in from Lithuania on a chartered plane.

   Back home, the small women's rights movement is cringing in disgust. Not only is the ``blond island'' idea demeaning to women, but borderline racist, said Margarita Jankauskaite, director of the Lithuanian Center for Equality Advancement.

   ``I am ashamed that this initiative came from my country. This only sends a message to the world that Lithuania is a country of cheap beer and cheap blond women,'' Jankauskaite said.

   Anuseviciute dismissed such concerns. ``It is not discrimination,'' she said. ``For example, if a ballet is casting for a male-only dance performance, is it discrimination against women when they only hire men?

   ``The same with our resort _ everyone will be welcome to work but will have to wear this uniform,'' Anuseviciute said.

Brand manager Lauryna Anuseviciute, right and Genute Zaliene, website editor, display a branded Olialia pizza in Vilnius, Lithuania, Thursday, Feb. 3, 2011. Olialia has used its troupe of fair-haired models in Lithuania to market just about anything from potato chips to pop music. But the jury is out on a shoe-shaped
Brand manager Lauryna Anuseviciute, right and Genute Zaliene, website editor, display a branded Olialia pizza in Vilnius, Lithuania, Thursday, Feb. 3, 2011. Olialia has used its troupe of fair-haired models in Lithuania to market just about anything from potato chips to pop music. But the jury is out on a shoe-shaped "fantasy resort" staffed only by blondes in the Maldives. The resort plans are still in their infancy but Anuseviciute insists Olialia already has secured financing. (AP-Yonhap)

 몰디브에 ‘금발호텔’ 추진

 
리투아니아의 대기업중의 하나인 올라라 그룹이 몰디브 지역에 “금발호텔”을 추진하고 있다. 이 회사는 이 호텔의 컨셉을 “금발미녀”로 설정, 모든 호텔 직원들은 금발로 구성 될 것이라고 밝혔다.
회사관계자는 금발머리는 투숙객들의 시선을 잡을 것이라면서 2015년을 개장 목표로 하고 있다고 말했다.
아직 몰디브당국에서는 이 “환상적인 리조트” 개발 계획에 대해서 정식으로 보고 받은 적이 없다고 밝혔다. 몰디브 측은 이 회사도 리조트를 건설 할 때 최소한 직원의 50%를 몰디브 국민으로 채워야 한다는 국내규정을 준수 해야 할 것이라고 밝혔다.
문제는 몰디브 국민은 금발이 아니라는 것. 몰디브는 다양한 인종들로 구성된 인도양의 군도이다.
하지만 올라라측은 원주민들에게 금발 가발을 착용시키던가 혹은 염색을 통해 이 문제를 해결 하겠다고 한다. 
이 계획은 리투아니아 자국에서도 뜨거운 찬반 논쟁을 일으키고 있는데 반대론자들은 이 계획으로 말미암아 세상사람들은 리투아니아를 값싼 맥주와 수준 낮은 금발여성들이 사는 나라라는 인식을 줄 것이라고 우려하고 있다.


  

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