European Union (EU) agrees to provide EUR 2 million (Rf. 35 million) in free aid to develop the guesthouses and liveaboard industry in Maldives on Tuesday.
The grant is provided under project "EU Support for a Resilient Recover of SME Tourism Industry in Maldives". The agreement to provide the funding was signed by Ambassador of the EU to Maldives Dennis Chaibi and Managing Director of Maldives Fund Management Corporation Hassan Manik.
The project launch event held that afternoon was also attended by Minister of Economic Development Fayyaz Ismail and Minister of Tourism Dr. Abdulla Mausoom.
This aid is provided to help Maldives' small and medium enterprises in the tourism industry to build a resilient economy after the pitfalls it faced due to COVID-19. While EUR 1.4 million (Rf. 25.2 million) will be provided in direct transfers, EUR 600,000 will be designated towards technical assistance.
It is projected that more than 600 micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) will financially benefit from this grant aid, aimed specifically to liveaboards and guesthouses with less than 40 beds. All MSMEs with a valid operating license at the beginning of the pandemic (from December 2019 to February 2020) are eligible to apply for assistance.
EU Ambassador to Maldives Chaibi said the EU was happy to work with Maldives to alleviate it's economic sector, which he noted was hard hit due to global travel restrictions. He said while some parts of the tourism industry have recovered others have not been as resilient. Their focus therefore is on sectors that can have a higher impact on the local economy.
"This is why we are focusing our efforts on guesthouses and safari vessels, so that our funds will have a direct impact on local communities and in particular on women-led businesses. These operations are often more sustainable, with a focus on the environment, and offer opportunities for tourists to discover the unique and rich culture of the Maldives," he said.
EU has aided Maldives in its journey to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic before as well. Previously they have provided EUR 1 million (Rf. 18 million) to support the health care sector and an EUR 20 million (Rf. 361 million) loan to by the European Investment Bank for long-term economic recovery.