Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO) has stated that Chinese travel agents will not be permitted to operate in the Maldives under the new bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) between the Maldives and China.
MATATO stated that the FTA would have a positive impact on the tourism industry and would not pose any threat to Maldivian companies, as Chinese travel agencies will not be permitted to work in the Maldives despite the agreement.
The representative body of travel agents also noted that Chinese companies will be subject to existing Maldivian policies on trade and the Foreign Investment Act currently in place, and hence will not be able to operate travel agencies in violation of those laws.
The FTA permits Maldivian travel agents to operate in three cities of China and also allows Maldivian carriers to fly directly to many Chinese cities.
The highest number of tourists visiting the Maldives arrive from China with 265,417 visitors recorded by October this year. However, this is an 8.2 percent drop compared to the same period in 2016.