Efforts are underway to establish a Maldivian embassy in Pretoria, South Africa.
The Maldives government made the announcement following a ceremony held at the President's Office during which the new Non-Resident High Commissioner of the Republic of South Africa to the Republic of Maldives, Sandile Edwin Schalk, presented his letter of credence to President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.
President Solih stated that the Maldives is looking forward to establishing a Maldives High Commission in Pretoria, South Africa, in a meeting held following the ceremony. He said that it would be the first Maldivian High Commission established on the continent of Africa and that it would help demonstrate the closeness between the two nations, also expressing hope that the opening of the office would extend the outreach of the Maldives.
The President and the High Commissioner spoke further on improving tourism, infrastructure development, and enhancing collaboration in the international fora.
In his Presidential Statement at the opening of the Parliament for 2019, President Solih had announced that Maldivian embassies would be opened in South Africa, Russia, and Washington, DC. He announced that a Maldivian consulate would be established in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, during the same speech. However, the government had not announced in which South African city where the embassy would be opened.
A Foreign Ministry official said an unofficial consulate is already run in Jeddah. He said that the opening of the embassy in South Africa was greatly delayed due to the difficulties and challenges encountered due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He added that the government is working to open the embassy in South Africa before the end of this year.
South Africa is the largest tourism source market in Africa.
In the first three months of this year, 2,932 tourists arrived in the Maldives from South Africa. This is an increase of 1,671 tourists compared to the same period last year. In the first three months of last year, 1,261 tourists arrived from South Africa.
The Maldives established diplomatic relations with South Africa on July 27, 1994.