The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), on Tuesday, launched a survey geared towards understanding the extent to which the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, has affected or continues to affect the livelihoods of resort workers.
Emphasizing on the strict confidentiality within which it would hold all information provided, NBS stated that persons employed by resort management companies, as well as those working for resort third-party affiliates and resort property ownership companies, are all eligible to participate in this survey.
Maldives’ largest employer, the tourism industry, suffered serious setbacks since the onset of the global health crisis and subsequent border closures, travel bans and lockdowns – smack in the middle of the high season.
Operations ground to a halt, troubles in the travel sector were further exacerbated by the economic regression that followed, with all national efforts and states funds rerouted to the COVID19 response.
As a result, resort workers across the archipelago were left disproportionately affected; from being stuck in their workplace until the nation closed borders and initiated a quarantine period, to facing severe pay cuts and loss of jobs.
This, in turn, forced many to evacuate their homes in the city, giving up access to better education and medical resources as they moved back to their respective islands. Some were even cast to the street by landlords, over being unable to make rent.
In response, the government has stated that it has begun disseminating up to MVR 5000 as a relief to resort workers that have lost their jobs.
While a number of resorts elected to send employees off on mandatory unpaid leave or slashed jobs, certain properties have announced plans to support their workers such as establishing fixed service charge rates and offering special allowances despite the property being closed for business. One or two properties also did sustain remuneration rates as per usual.
Shortly after the global health crisis arose, Maldives’ government introduced an economic relief fund of MVR 2.5 billion intended to prevent the closing down of local businesses and the loss of jobs. Nevertheless, the Economic Ministry’s job portal continued to rack up unemployed registrations, the majority of which was declared to be from the resort sector.
On June 16, the government revealed that MVR 325 million in loans had already been issued to resort operators and businesses with an annual income of over MVR 10 million. The recipients’ identities were not revealed.
As the Maldives moves to re-open borders in July, a number of resorts are also swiftly preparing to welcome guests again. However, a few resorts have instead elected to open doors in September, closer to the ‘festive’ season.
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