VISITORS are still flocking to the Maldives a month after the assassination attempt on Maldivian president Abdulla Yameen on September 28, 2015, in which a bomb blast destroyed the presidential boat near Malé and injured Yameen’s wife and two aides.
Yameen, who narrowly escaped the attack, had last week arrested Maldivian vice president and tourism minister Ahmed Adheeb Abdul Ghafoor, who is accused as the main perpetrator.
Abdulla Ziyath, managing director of the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC), the country’s main tourism promotion agency, has also been arrested. The MMPRC office was closed for nine days for police investigations and only reopened yesterday. At least three MMPRC-organised roadshows scheduled for China, France and America have been cancelled as a result.
Maldives, which depends heavily on tourism revenue, is going ahead with its usual promotional activities and is still expecting solid arrival numbers this year, said Hussain Lirar, deputy minister of tourism. “We are expecting a good (European) winter season and confident of reaching 1.4 million arrivals this year,” he said.
Susith Jayawickrama, managing director of Aitken Spence Hotels, whose Adaaran brand has the largest number of rooms in the Maldives, said while there was no fallout in the short term, it is important for promotions to continue to avoid any medium- to long-term impact.
Tourists are normally unaffected by any political turbulence in Malé, as the resorts are located far away from the highly-populated capital, explained Jayawickrema.