Tourism Minister: Russia-Ukraine war will significantly impact Maldivian tourism

Tourism Minister Dr. Abdulla Mausoom in an exclusive interview to Sun on September 17, 2020. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

Tourism Minister Dr. Abdulla Mausoom has stated that war between Russia and Ukraine will significantly impact the Maldivian tourism sector.

Speaking to Sun regarding the matter, Minister Mausoom stressed that 20 percent of the tourist market to the Maldives comprises of Russian and Ukrainian tourists. Adding that the top tourist market to the Maldives at present is Russia, he said that the war will definitely adversely impact Maldivian tourism.

As per statistics by Tourism Ministry, Maldives recorded 23,347 tourists from Russia in January. The top tourist market so far this month, is also Russia.

Last year, the second top tourist market to the Maldives was Russia; recording a total of 208,072 tourist arrivals from the country. Meanwhile, a total of 30,904 tourist arrivals were recorded from Ukraine.

“With changes to the Russian financial situation, the value of their currency has significantly dropped. Therefore, it will be very expensive for a person who wishes to travel to Maldives,” he added.

Speaking further, Minister Mausoom said that the statuses of Russian and Ukrainian tourists currently in the Maldives are being closely monitored in collaboration with Foreign Ministry. He added that in case they are unable to return to their countries, a special tourist visa will be granted for them to facilitate a longer stay in the Maldives.

Minister Mausoom also highlighted that the losses incurred by the Maldivian tourism industry subsequent to the war, can be accounted for when China reopens its borders and Chinese travelers begin arriving in the Maldives. However, he added that it is unclear when China will reopen its borders.

“Hoping to see Chinese travelers within this year,” he added.

In concluding his interview, Minister Mausoom stressed that some resorts and islands have yet to recover from the losses incurred arising from the closure of Maldivian borders in light of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. He described a war breaking out at this time an additional strain on them before full recovery.