Some resorts in the Maldives were reporting cancellations from Chinese tourists on Tuesday despite assurance from the government that the country remains safe for travel after a state of emergency was declared.
Since the declaration, the Chinese government has urged its citizens to avoid visiting the Maldives until the situation improves. The US and UK have also updated their travel advisories urging their citizens to avoid areas where violence and unrest was likely.
In the Maldives, the Tourism Ministry assured that all tourism-related businesses will be operating as usual and the situation in the Maldives remains stable.
Abdulla Ghiyas, president of Maldives Association for Travel Agents & Tour Operators (MATATO), said resorts – particularly those near the airport – had reported full bookings for the next two weeks, which covers the Chinese New Year on February 16.
Now however, “emails are flowing in, phones are ringing, constantly seeking information in the situation”, said Ghiyas, who is also deputy managing director at Inner Maldives Holiday.
The executive director of a resort, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added: “While we don’t rely too much on Chinese clientele, I am getting reports that there have been many cancellations at other properties.” He added that a good number of those resorts had been fully booked due to Chinese New Year holidays.
According to local media reports, guesthouses in the Maldives have also been affected. Mohamed Karam, president of Guesthouse Association of Maldives, was quoted as saying: “There have been more than 50 cancellations from China bookings at my guesthouse alone, I have been receiving updates about several other guesthouses facing the same issue.”
Typically the capital of Male has been the centre of political developments and their ensuing events. Many of the Maldives’ resorts are on outlying islands.