700,000 tourist arrivals expected in 2021 – Finance Minister

Tourists arriving to Maldives during the Covid-19 pandemic | Photo: Avas

Malé, Maldives — The Finance Minister of Maldives, Ibrahim Ameer expects approximately 700,000 tourist arrivals in 2021.

While speaking at the Wednesday parliament sitting, the Finance Minister revealed that the government has foreseen and made several models for different scenarios that are likely to occur as a result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Ameer continued to say that although the initial expected figure till the end of 2020 for tourist arrivals was 800,000, the figure has been revised to 450,000 after seeing a drastically low amount of tourist arrivals compared to pre-COVID-19 figures.

The number of tourist arrivals to Maldives have decreased due to the closure of borders and travel restrictions in several countries in order to contain the virus. Although the borders of Maldives were closed on on March 27 as a precautionary measure, it was reopened on July 15, as soon as the daily Covid figures had dropped in the epicenter Malé city. However, the ease in lockdown measures immediately resulted in a strike in the number of confirmed cases, although it now has tipped off for the better.

Minister Ameer mentioned that the government is not expecting for the tourism to significantly pick up pace during the upcoming year, therefore, an estimatation of 700,000 tourist arrivals was expected as a best case scenario for the year 2021. The minister mentioned that despite all this, there is still hope for the situation to improve.

Furthermore, Ameer added that despite having a low tourist arrival figure, the duration of stay had increased. While an average tourist would spend five or six nights in the Maldives, the duration has increased to 14 nights, increasing the possibility of balancing off the loss that was suffered due to the less number of arrivals.

When the international borders of Maldives was closed on July 15, it had left the Maldivian economy on a vulnerable state as the country solely depends on the tourism industry for income. However, Minister Ameer also mentioned that the government is also paying extra attention to enhancing the fishing and agriculture industries to lessen the country’s dependency on the tourism sector.