Maldives tourism woes mount as Europe cancels charter flight

Maldives tourism woes continued to mount after a charter flight which was scheduled to begin operations directly from Europe cancelled over the ongoing state of emergency in the tropical island destination.

Capital Travel's CEO Yoousuf Riffath told AVAS that the flight which was scheduled to begin operations in the off season had cancelled citing the state of emergency.

"Everything had been arranged. The flight was scheduled to begin from May. But now they don't want to start given the situation here. This is a major blow for our tourism industry," Riffath bemoaned.

Riffath said the flight was scheduled to begin from Madrid carrying around 750 tourists per week to the Maldives.

He said the entire tourism industry had been engaged in the efforts to start the flight but "everything has now gone down the drain."

"This is extremely sad. We've even blocked rooms for the flight. This is a major loss for us," he added.

The island nation has been embroiled in fresh political turmoil after the Supreme Court on February 1 ordered the immediate release of jailed political leaders including self-exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed.

President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom had declared a 15 day state of emergency after his last ditch attempt to convince the top court to revoke the order failed as the apex court rejected the government's 'legal and judicial' concerns over the order.

Several countries including India, US, UK and China have issued varying degrees of travel advisories to their citizens following the turmoil in the luxury tropical island destination.

The tourism industry has suffered in the wake of the state of emergency with quickly falling occupancy rates.

The industry had warned that the state of emergency could cost the country millions.

However, despite the obvious damage to the linchpin of the island nation's economy, president Yameen on Monday had asked the parliament to extend the state of emergency by another 15 days.