Maldives tourism in precarious state, MATATO says

The Maldives Association for Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO) on Thursday unveiled the findings of a recent survey highlighting the fragile state of the country’s tourism industry.

MATATO’s President, Abdulla Giyas, presented the results of the survey, which involved more than 2,000 participants, at a press conference. Notably, these participants included not only local agents but also resorts, guesthouses, liveaboards, tourism professionals, and small and medium businesses within the tourism sector.

The survey identified several key concerns and requests, which are as follows:

  • Absence of legislation governing local travel agents
  • The need for a taxation system that safeguards local agents
  • Issues related to unfair competition among online agencies
  • Challenges with bank payments
  • The regulation of foreign travel agents and agencies

Furthermore, MATATO’s survey revealed that despite welcoming 1.4 million tourists this year, the occupancy rate in terms of bed capacity, set at 62,000, remains below 50%.

The association also pointed out that the Ministry of Tourism’s methods for measuring tourist arrivals may not be the most suitable.

Speaking at a press briefing, MATATO’s Vice President, Mohamed Shaaz Waleed, emphasised that the Maldivian tourism sector is currently in a vulnerable state. He underlined that the recommendations from the survey represent actionable steps proposed by tourism professionals to address the situation, urging the incoming administration to consider their implementation.

Supporting Shaaz’s statements, Giyas highlighted the importance of sharing the concerns of the tourism sector during this transitional phase. He stated that MATATO, alongside stakeholders, members, and local agents, is actively advocating for the adoption of these recommendations.

Giyas also noted that the last similar survey conducted in the Maldives took place back in 2011.

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