Parliament’s Economic Committee has voted in favor of collecting a tax of USD 8 from every tourist arrival to the country, when it reopens, due to the COVID-19 situation in the country.
The draft of the Safe Tourism Guideline formulated by the Ministry for the purpose of restarting tourism in the Maldives has been forwarded to the Parliament for recommendations and amendments.
A virtual meeting of the Economic Committee was held today to discuss the draft. The Committee approved to forward the suggestions of the Parliament made so far, in regards to the draft, to the Ministry.
The main point that gained attention included by the committee was a proposed USD 8 COVID-19 tax to be collected from every tourist arrival into the country. The tax was proposed by MP for Central Maafannu Ahmed Rasheed.
“The government has deferred the rental payments of resorts. They are also providing other benefits. With all of that included, the government is also incurring the expenses if a tourist falls ill. Doing all this, is simply not possible for the Maldivian government or any other government," said MP Rasheed.
His proposal was supported by MP for Naifaru and opposition PPM’s deputy leader Ahmed Shiyam.
MP for Dhuvaafaru Ismail Ahmed proposed to request the Ministry to send the final draft of the guideline after discussions with industry stakeholders. He also proposed to forward the current suggestions of the Parliament to the Ministry.
The two proposals were passed with the support of all seven MPs in the Committee.
Some MPs also expressed disagreement over whether the Parliament should involve its say in the matter right now. The disagreement was due to the fact that discussions over the draft with industry stakeholders were still not concluded and that the final draft is still not completed.
Mathiveri MP Hassan Zareer said that he supported on commenting and passing the report once the final draft was received. It was not imperative for the Committee to make suggestions on the matter immediately, said the MP.
Tourism Minister Ali Waheed had stated in last night’s Committee meeting that the draft forwarded to the Parliament was indeed not the final one. The Minister had also said that many of the fees included in the first draft of the guidelines had been repealed. The guideline is expected to be finalized before the end of this month.
The Maldives had acted quickly to restrict arrivals from countries due to the global pandemic. It had later stopped issuing on-arrival visas. The result was the economy of the country grinding to a halt.
With the virus effectively controlled, the Tourism Ministry is now targeting to open the country for tourism between June and October.