Maldives pres admits Feb 1 court order fallout on tourism

President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom on Tuesday admitted that the tourists had cancelled advanced bookings to holiday in the Maldives following the landmark Supreme Court order on February 1.

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 Yameen on February 5 had declared 45 day state of emergency after his last ditch attempt to convince the top court to revoke the order failed, purged the Supreme Court by arresting two judges and the remaining political leaders and ultimately had the order revoked.

Despite stark travel advisories during the period from several countries, there had not seemed an adverse impact on the linchpin of the country's economy as tourist arrivals increased through March.

However, statistics show that arrivals have since declined in the last two months which could be explained if tourists had cancelled advance holiday bookings following the turmoil in the tropical island destination.

Speaking after inaugurating a new harbour in Meemu Atoll Kolhufushi island, president Yameen said his government has been engaged in efforts to reduce the impact on tourism.

"There wasn't an immediate impact. But such a huge development had an impact on advance bookings. We are trying to mitigate that now," he explained.

President Yameen also said the country needs stability and peace to ensure continued development and progress.

According to official tourism statistics, 92,913 tourists had holidayed in the Maldives in May which however is down 0.6 percent from the corresponding period last year.

Maldives' biggest market China suffered a major slip with a 27.1 percent decrease from 23,225 last year to 16،927 in May this year. A boost in arrivals from Europe however, largely stemmed the downward trend for the tropical island destination.

The slide would worry the tourism industry which remains the linchpin of the country's economy as the archipelago had also registered a 0.1 percent decrease in arrivals in April.