Maldives holidays WARNING: ‘Hundreds’ of tourists CANCEL bookings after state of emergencyOn February 14, 2018 by Margot
Tourists have been cancelling hundreds of hotel bookings in Maldives every day since the imposition of a state of emergency last week, tour operators say.
Warnings were issued in China, India, the United States and Britain after President Abdulla Yameen imposed the 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 in the country,” said a spokesman for Paradise Island Resort-Villa Group which runs the 282-room hotel, a 20-minute ride by speedboat from Male where the turmoil is centred.
Tourism accounts for a third of 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.
Calls from Yameen’s opponents for military intervention by India, the leading power in the region, have added to the uncertainty.
The Muslim-majority nation of 400,000 people lies close to international shipping lines and has become another arena of contest between India and China.
China, which has built close ties to the Yameen government in its push for a network of friendly ports in the Indian Ocean under its “Belt and Road” initiative, has cautioned against foreign interference. But that hasn’t stopped it from issuing a travel warning to its citizens, who make up a fifth of the tourist traffic.
“We have a higher market for Chinese and Indian travellers and we are seeing most of the cancellations from these markets,” said a tour operator in Male speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of upsetting the government.
Early estimates pointed to a 20 percent to 25 percent rise in cancellations over the normal pattern since the crisis began, he said.
The Maldives is a country made up of more than 1,000 islands, synonymous with coral reefs, white-powdered beaches and turquoise clear waters.
However it appears there may be trouble in paradise, with recent protests in the capital of Malé causing the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to issue travel advice to holidaymakers.
UK Government have advised travellers to exercise caution when visiting one of the world’s most idyllic countries.
The FCO released the following statement: “On 2 February 2018 there were protests and police on the streets of central Malé in response to emerging political developments.
Independent Travel Expert, Frank Brehany told Express.co.uk: “The recent declaration of a State of Emergency in the Maldives, arises as a result of two events; the arrest of the President in 2015 and the recent decision by the Maldivian Supreme Court ordering the release of political prisoners.
“The Maldives has been subject to political problems for several years and past problems have included protests in the Capital.
“The recently declared State of Emergency is designed to ensure that Maldivian life can continue as normally as possible. Looking at various travel advisories, they all follow the same theme, which is to avoid protests and to follow the directions of the authorities.
“As it stands at this moment in time, whilst it would appear that holidaymakers from a number of countries are cancelling their holidays to the Maldives, the UK Foreign Office is not advising against travel and UK Travel Companies appear to be operating a normal service to this area.
“That said, it is vital that holidaymakers become their own ‘risk-assessors’ and ensure that they follow several news outlets, read travel review websites, examine Maldivian news services and speak with their travel insurer as they will have access to risk analyses for a given destination.
“Once you have this information, carry out a compare & contrast review of the information to determine the level of risk you may be willing to accept; if you have already booked your holiday, maintain that assessment up to the point of departure.
“If the situation changes on the ground, you may be able to rely on your ‘significant change’ rights within the Package Travel Regulations and should confront your travel company for the delivery of those rights.”