Dear Valued Members of MATI,
Welcome to the 2nd Quarter Issue, 2020 of the MATI Matters Newsletter.
This has been the bleakest Quarter for Maldives Tourism, since its inception in 1972. As per the border closure towards the end of March 2020, there have not been any arrivals for the months of April, May and June 2020.
Almost all of the resorts have been closed for operation from April 2020 onwards, except for a collective few which have remained open due to existing guests that travelled in March 2020.
The numerous problems arising from the border closure have nearly overwhelmed the Industry as well as the Government. Issues ranging from, difficulty in repatriating travelers as well as foreign employees due to lack of flights, difficulty in allowing idle Maldivian staff to return back to their home islands due to the HPA quarantine requirements, etc. Above all, no cashflow meant that many resorts have had to lay-off their employees and/or send them on no-pay leave / enforce pay-cuts.
As expected, the COVID-19 stimulus package announced by the Government was not sufficient enough for the sector to survive. Many individual resorts have had to procure borrowing from other international sources and/or inject further capital into their operations.
Nevertheless, we are happy to note that the Government has finally granted deferment of Resort Land Rent for Q3 and Q4, something which we have been tirelessly campaigning for. We also welcome the 6-month national loan moratorium announced by the Government (which ends in September of 2020).
In terms of the work of MATI, this has been quite a hectic period for us as well, from coordinating with foreign embassies to help arrange repatriation flights for foreign employees to having numerous discussion with the government and relevant stakeholders to find ways to help mitigate the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to offering consistent feedback to the numerous versions of the ‘’Guideline for Restarting of Tourism in Maldives’’ to becoming a member of the National Taskforce on Building Resilience and Economic Recovery and submitting our feedback directly to HEP Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and the President’s Office.
We are greatly encouraged by the Government’s decision to re-open borders from the 15th of July 2020 onwards. However, we must all accept the fact that it would take time for Maldives Tourism to revert to pre-COVID-19, in terms of performance. Arrivals are dependent not on just our internal policies and control of COVID-19, but also on numerous external factors such as flight frequency, travel restrictions and requirements of other countries, etc.
I wish for a quick recovery of our Tourism Industry and assure all members that though our borders may open once again in July, our work and efforts to ensure the sustainability of the Tourism Industry will keep on intensifying.
Secretary General of MATI