Business Tourism

Tourism bodies beg for Maldives state of emergency to stop

Tourism bodies have begged the government to end the state of emergency in the Maldives and boost marketing efforts abroad to make up for losses.

Operators say hundreds of hotel bookings have been cancelled daily since February 5, when a 15-day state of emergency was declared, despite government assurances that all is normal in the resort islands.

Earlier this week parliament approved a 30-day extension to the state of emergency, which is now due to end March 22.

Liveaboard Association of Maldives (LAM) and the Guesthouse Association of Maldives (GAM) said the state of emergency and political unrest have been followed by boycott calls and a slew of travel advisories from key markets asking holidaymakers to stay away.

GAM was concerned about the loss incurred by businesses.

“On February 15 we sent a letter to the Ministry of Finance sharing information about the impact of the state of emergency and begging the government to end the emergency,” it said.

LAM called on political actors to act responsibly.

“We also believe that calling for boycotting tourism and the extension of state of emergency in Maldives will boldly effect the occupancy and confirmed bookings,” it said.

Heavyweight tourism lobby groups MATI and MATATO have so far remained silent on the upheaval.

China, India, the United States and the UK issued travel warnings after President Abdulla Yameen imposed a state of emergency and arrested judges who had ordered him to free jailed opposition leaders.

“We have had about 50-60 room cancellations per day and the number is consistent since it started. This is the same for all of our properties,” a spokesman for the 282-room Paradise Island Resort told the Maldives Independent, referring to other hotels in the Villa Group.

Tourism accounts for a third of the Maldives’ gross domestic product, measured at $3.5 billion in 2017.

Ratings agency Moody’s has said it would lower its 2018 growth forecast of 4.5 percent if tourists are deterred for a prolonged period.

A tour operator in Malé catering for Chinese tourists told the Maldives Independent on condition of anonymity that cancellations have gone up by 30 to 35 percent since the start of February.

“We have a higher market for Chinese and Indian travellers and we are seeing most of the cancellations from these markets,” the tour operator said.

Yoosuf Riffath, CEO of Capital Travel, tweeted on Tuesday that a chartered flight from Europe had been cancelled.

“Confirmed charter from #Madrid for summer 2018 cancelled. 22 years of marketing down the drain. #Maldives tourism is in peril. State of Emergency must be lifted not extended,” he said.

Riffath told local media that the flights from Madrid were scheduled to bring in 750 tourists per week.

“Every flight would bring about 250 tourists to the country and they will spend seven days on average. This cancellation will lead to a huge loss,” he told Sun Online.

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Source URL:  Maldives Independent

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