Minister of Tourism Ali Waheed on Wednesday estimated that the economic growth of Maldives may recede to a negative 26 percent in the worst-case scenario.
Speaking at the Commonwealth's Virtual Seminar on the Impact of Tourism, Debt and Disaster Risk Management, the minister stated that as one-third of the Maldivian government's revenue is generated from tourism, the country is heavily dependent on the industry.
He highlighted that since the beginning of tourism in Maldives 47 years ago, this is the first time experiencing zero tourist arrivals. Due to the global pandemic, and travel restrictions put in place by Maldives and other nations to combat the diseases, no tourists arrived since March.
Speaking about the government's efforts to flatten the curve Minister Waheed revealed that the tourism industry has utilized 26 resort establishments with nearly 3000 rooms for quarantine and isolation facilities.
"Controlling and managing the pandemic today is key for a progressive economy for tomorrow."
He went on to say that the country cannot keep the boarders closed for long and that government is engaging with the relevant industry stakeholders to compile "Guideline for Restarting Maldives Tourism" from July onwards. He also acknowledged that the government has a unique opportunity to integrate policies on climate change.
"Government of Maldives is determined to address the socio-economic impacts promptly. Rescuing the businesses and bringing back the workforce back to their jobs is on top of our agenda. Also, we will use this opportunity to strengthen the local parity and women empowerment in our industry."
Furthermore, Waheed said that Maldives is glad to be back in the Commonwealth and expressed gratitude for the support provided by the organization and its member stated during previous tough times. He added that as a nation that is heavily dependent on tourism, the country once again is in need of support on this road to recovery.
Ending his statement, the Minister urged all Commonwealth countries to open up the borders without compromising safety, and stated that it is time to build the confidence of travellers towards intra-commonwealth travel and tourism.