Tourism Trouble in the Maldives?

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Vilamendhoo Atoll in the Maldives

The Maldives are a popular tropical getaway for many, known for their stunning white-sand beaches and its excellent scuba diving. However, the recent political turmoil between President Abdulla Yameen and certain members of the opposition, resulted in him declaring a state of emergency on February 5. This measure has severely impacted tourism to the Maldives.

Upheaval Affects Tourists

Tourism, which accounts for almost a third of the nation GDP of the Maldives, has been hit by the various travel warnings issued by the governments of China, India, the UK and the Unites States. This comes at an especially bad time as it falls during the week-long Chinese New Year celebrations. Beginning on Feb 15, this vacation period sees thousands of Chinese tourists visit each year. Chinese travelers make up a over one fifth of the total annual tourist traffic. Indians, who are the second highest in terms of international tourists, are also choosing other destinations, such as the Seychelles, Sri Lanka, or Mauritius over the Maldives.

A luxury resort in the Maldives

In a country which allows almost all foreign visitors a free 30-day visa on arrival, the Maldives witnessed 1.4 million tourists from all around the world in 2017 alone, according to statistics released by the government. The recent upheaval, however, has seen many tourists cancelling their bookings to the country. Even airlines are allowing customers to cancel or change their tickets at no extra cost.

So How Safe Is It?
Maldivian capital Male viewed from above

While the police have indeed been deployed on the streets of the capital Malé to prevent and control any protests or rallies, the tourist industry remains largely functional. Velana International Airport at Malé, and the numerous outlying islands of the Maldives are unaffected by this turn of events.

The government has continued to reassure tourists and visitors that these resort islands are completely safe to visit. They have even sent envoys to various neighboring countries reassuring them that the Maldives were still safe for international travel.

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