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Tourism losses downplayed at home and abroad

The Tourism Ministry has yet to publish visitor numbers for February.



Government figures have downplayed the impact of the state of emergency on tourism, even as the Maldives guesthouse industry continued to report cancellations.

Only 1,500 visitors cancelled their bookings in February, said Abdul Raheem Abdulla MP from the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives, while one of the country’s top envoys lauded the country’s success at a key tourism fair.

The Maldives worked to provide accurate information regarding the state of emergency and to combat false narratives in the international community at the ITB Berlin Tourism Fair, said an ambassador.

“We looked at what we could do proactively. We met with travel writers and guaranteed that there would be no difficulties or disadvantages, or any security issues,” PSM News reported Ahmed Shiaan as saying.

“As a result of that the cancellations in February were very low. So we haven’t noticed a difference in the European market in Maldives.”

But guesthouse owners in Maafushi and Himmafushi, two tourism hubs, have said their businesses have suffered.

“We’ve had 80 percent cancellations and the occupancy rate is very low. Before the state of emergency, we were overbooked for two months,” said an employee at Seven Corals guesthouse in Maafushi.

The Tourism Ministry has yet to publish visitor numbers for February.

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

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

The state of emergency is due to end March 22.