According to independent travel expert, Frank Brehany, “the recent declaration of a State of Emergency in the Maldives, arises as a result of two events; the arrest of the President in 2015 and the recent decision by the Maldivian Supreme Court ordering the release of political prisoners”.
The recent declaration was imposed by President Abdullah Yammen on February 5. The president also arrested judges after refusing to free jailed opposition leaders.
However, the issues are not new. Political problems have persisted for several years including previous protests in the capital of Malé.
British tourists should not worry according to Brehany, as he reassures that “the recently declared State of Emergency is designed to ensure that Maldivian life can continue as normally as possible”.
This is in accordance with the UK’s Foreign Commonwealth Office’s (FCO) travel advice, which states the outlying islands and resorts popular with holidaymakers are not being affected.
In order to stay safe on these paradise islands, Brehany advises tourists to “avoid protests and to follow the directions of the authorities”
Despite recent reports from travel operator Paradise Island Resort-Villa Group of holidaymakers cancelling 50 to 60 hotel rooms per day, Brehany states that “UK travel companies appear to be operating a normal service to this area”.
This includes UK-based airline British Airways who has not cancelled any flights so far.
Instead of cancelling bookings, Brehany urges tourists heading to the Maldives in coming weeks to assess the situation. He says, “it is vital that holidaymakers become their own ‘risk-assessors’ and ensure they follow several news outlets”.
Tourists should regularly read “travel review websites, examine Maldivian news services and speak with their travel insurer as they will have access to risk analyses for a given destination”, he continues.
“Once you have this information, carry out a compare and contract review of the information to determine the level of risk you may be willing to accept.
“If you have already booked your holiday, maintain that assessment up to the point of departure.”
So, it is important for holidaymakers with upcoming bookings to the Maldives to keep track of the situation and make an informed decision of whether they still wish to go.
However, if the unrest increases and FCO travel advice changes “you may be able to rely on your ‘significant change’ rights within the Package Travel Regulations and should confront your travel company for the delivery of those rights.”
This could result in your holiday operator offering a chance to switch destinations or postpone flights. If you are concerned about your travel arrangements, seek advice from your holiday operator and travel insurance provider.
At present, the FCO states that it is still safe to travel to the Maldives and most visits remain “trouble free”.
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