Not the time to charge extra taxes, says Tourism Minister

Tourism Minister Ali Waheed on Monday stated that it is not wise to introduce new taxes under the current circumstance faced by the country as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking at a conference organized by UNWTO on Monday, Minister Ali Waheed said it is unwise to introduce new taxes instead of focusing on ensuring a safe environment for travelers and restarting the travel industry, at a time when the tourism-dependent country is attempting to reopen its economy after being shut down as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The minister said the archipelago intends to reopen the tourism industry in July and that new discounts will be introduced and new marketing strategies will be adopted.

The minister said the current government has disproved the misconception that Maldives holidays are only affordable to the rich and wealthy, and has shown the world that Maldives offers affordable holidays. He added that the Maldives can ensure its safety to all tourists who visit the popular destination.

Minister Waheed said health and safety are the top priorities of the government and the government intends to reopen the economy in phases. In this regard, a guideline on re-opening the tourism industry is being established, said the minister. While the first draft proposed to charge large taxes, including fees imposed on private jets, charter flights and super yachts permitted to travel to the Maldives, it also proposed to charge a US$ 100 fee for special tourists visas. However, backlash from stakeholders and key industry businesses prompted the government to remove the imposition of the fees from the guideline.