The Indian High Commission, on Tuesday, held an ‘India Maldives Travel Connect’ webinar in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism.
Representatives from travel associations based in both India and Maldives attended the virtual event, including the Association of Travel Agents (ATA), Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO), Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI), Outbound Tour Operators Association of India (OTOAI), Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO), Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
Furthermore, Indian High Commissioner to Maldives Sunjay Sudhir, Minister of Tourism Dr Abdulla Mausoom and Managing Director of the Maldives Marketing and Public Relation Corporation (MMPRC) Thoyyib Mohamed delivered addresses at the beginning of the webinar.
According to the High Commission, the ‘India Maldives Travel Connect’ was intended to strengthen connections in order to increase the number of tourist arrivals from India as well as boosting mutual prosperity.
In 2019, India became the second largest tourism market for Maldives after being recorded at the fifth rank in 2018. India and Maldives also operationalised an air travel bubble in August 2020 to support the tourism industry.
Air India, Maldivian Airlines and Indigo Airlines currently operate a total of five weekly flights between the two neighbouring countries. IndiGo is scheduled to commence two weekly flights between Mumbai and Male' in mid-October.
As with numerous countries around the world, in the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Maldives closed its air and sea borders to tourist arrivals from March 27 to July 15.
The restrictions on international travel left Maldives' heavily tourism reliant economy in an extremely vulnerable state. In mid-April, the World Bank projected that Maldives would be the worst-hit economy in the South Asian region due to the pandemic.
However, the Minister of Tourism expressed hopes for the industry's recovery in late August, and estimated that 100,000 tourists will visit Maldives before the year ends.
Additionally, the tourism ministry also noted that, with guesthouses and local tourism set to resume on October 15, Maldives is expecting "a significant boost in our journey towards the recovery of the tourism industry".