UK tour operators demand Maldives charter flights

TD Guest Writer

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UK tour operators have been undeterred by recent demonstrations in the Maldives despite negative portrayals in the media this week, its tourism minister has said.

Speaking to Travel Daily at a conference yesterday (12 March), Ahmed Adheeb Abdul Gafoor, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture for the Maldives government said he had visited tour operators earlier this week who are eager to launch charter flights and develop product on the islands. While January started well in tourism figures for the Maldives this year, numbers for February are down 6%.

“Tour operators have asked us to facilitate charters and we will formulate a policy that sets our tourism for the next five to 10 years,” said Gafoor. “We are still marketing the Maldives as a high-end brand with the ‘one island one resort’ model but we realise the eurozone crisis and want to keep this market, so we must offer affordable luxury”.

The government is now focused on developing a new strategy for tourism including three and four star properties, as well as builds on its other islands. Gafoor also insisted the government would not ban spas again after the backlash faced late last year. “Spa closures were under the previous government and had a negative impact on tourism. Lots of tour operators and we will ensure these policies will never be implemented in the future,” he said.

Gafoor’s comments come after reports of turbulence in Male were beamed across the world as the islands build its new democracy. Yet despite the political instability, tourism is vital for Maldive’s economy and it is keen to minimise the coverage’s impact on the sector. “Our country has to go forward, it is too soon to point fingers and we must give room for democracy. We have to keep tourism and development steady so the Maldives can go on,” said Gafoor.

Klook.com
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