Dear Valued Members of MATI,
Welcome to the 1st Quarter Issue, 2020 of the MATI Matters Newsletter.
We witnessed an unprecedented and extremely saddening event that took place towards the end of the 1st Quarter of this year. I am obviously referring to the closure of our borders due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a first for Maldives Tourism which I sincerely hope would be the last.
The gains that we made for the month of January and February in terms of tourist arrivals have been greatly overshadowed by the deep decline for the month of March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We held the 30th Annual General Meeting at Kurumba Maldives on the 23rd of February 2020. The signs of a looming crisis were on the minds of all attendees. In addition to concerns regarding this potentia, our members also raised issues regarding the lack of a solution to the age-old and ongoing open burning of waste at Thilafushi as well as the potential negative environmental impact of the Gulhi Falhu reclamation. As listed in the Quarterly review section of this newsletter, we have raised these issues with the relevant authorities and we will be consistently following up with them as developments progress.
From February 2020 onwards, MATI has been a proactive member of the Coronavirus Tourism Taskforce set-up by the Ministry of Tourism. We have been offering our feedback to the relevant stakeholders with regard to the potential negative impact the industry would have to face, due to the spread of COVID-19. We also offered our input when requested for potential mitigationary steps the Government could proactively take.
One of the highlights of our initial response to the crisis, before the Government’s response, was trying to find financing solutions for our members and the industry as a whole. One initiative was working together with BML and the Ministry of Tourism to set-up a short-term financing solution to support the Tourism sector.
Furthermore, we have strongly recommended to the Government to create a holistic stimulus package for the Tourism Industry to help ensure that the industry weathers the crisis. To this end, we also attended a meeting with MOT, MoED, Ministry of Finance, MMA, MACL and other industry stakeholders to discuss their proposed Stimulus Package.
We have also requested for the deferment of resort land lease rent for the remaining quarters of this year, but to date we have not yet received a favourable response from the Government, but I assure you that this is an issue that we will consistently work to help achieve.
The reality that we must face now is knowing that an unprecedented and precarious period lies ahead for us, where we will not be able to welcome any travelers. We need to prepare for this collectively and understand that the Government might not be able to provide a financial stimulus package viable enough for the entire industry.
It is our strongest hope that we are able to re-open our borders and resume tourism as soon as possible. However, till then, we will be consistently monitoring the external and internal situation and raise concerns and feedback of our members with the relevant authorities.
Lastly, I would like to welcome Faarufushi Maldives that became a member of MATI during the 1st Quarter of 2020.
Mr. Ahmed Nazeer
Secretary General of MATI