Tourism Minister: Industry could take at least a year to rebound

Tourism Minister Ali Waheed. Minister Ali Waheed said that the government was targeting to make the Maldives a Covid-19 free country and recommence “safe tourism” within three months on April 13, 2020. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

It will take the Maldives about a year at least to fully recover from the gaping hole left by the COVID-19 virus, says Tourism Minister Ali Waheed.

Speaking in a presser today, Minister Ali Waheed stated that the industry could take a year or year and a half to go back to where it was before the virus.

Packages have already been formed to assist the industry to overcome the negative impact. However, the Minister noted that as the situation dragged on, the packages would also have to be increased.

“I have no suspicions that tourists would start arriving when the virus is controlled and the borders are reopened. However, I predict that it would take a year or a year and a half for tourism to rebound in the country.” Says Minister Ali Waheed.

Speaking about the short term relief packages of the government designated for the industry, Minister Ali Waheed said, “This was forecast for the first three months, but we can clearly see that it is going to last more than that,”

“This means that there is more to be done by the government and that there are more steps to be taken by the industry as well.”

He noted that previous estimates for the industry had already shown the worst-case scenario.

The worst-case scenario is depicted as when no tourists arrive in the Maldives for the remainder of the year. The Minister gave the green light that the country was still aiming to reopen the economy and industry at the right time.

The industry could also see a shift for being more localized when restarted and should strive towards achieving these goals.

The Maldives has been heavily impacted economically due to the virus. With most of the resorts in the country closed, many have been turned into government quarantine and isolation facilities for virus patients.

The closure of the resorts means that the single biggest source of income into the country has completely dried up. This has left many workers and companies in the country dependent on the industry in shambles.

The Maldives has so far confirmed 862 cases of the virus with three deaths. Top health officials expect the situation to get worse in the country and reach a peak on May 31, before dying down.