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Maldives hit by huge wave of holiday cancellations

February 19, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Tourists like a carefree tropical holiday in an untroubled destination – so the political turbulence affecting the Maldives has led to a rush of cancellations by travellers planning to holiday in the Indian Ocean country.

The Maldives imposed a state of emergency on 5 February 2018 as part of a growing political rift between the president and key opposition figures.

Foreign governments, including Australia, have issued travel warnings and advisories, with all-too-predictable consequences.  

A spokesman for Paradise Island Resort-Villa Group – which runs a 282-room resort, was quoted in London’s Daily Telegraph saying room cancellations were running at about 50 to 60 per day and the same was true for other properties in the country.

About one third of visitor arrivals in the Maldives are from China – and China has hardened its Maldives travel alert, advising Chinese citizens to cancel their plans. This came at the worst possible time, with Chinese New Year (Year of the Dog) falling last week, the prime travel time for Chinese citizens heading abroad.

The latest advisory update from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) states: “On 5 February 2018, Maldives government declared a State of Emergency. Avoid protests and large public gatherings as they have the potential to turn violent. Monitor local media and follow instructions issued by local authorities. The level of our advice has not changed. Exercise a high degree of caution on Malé Island. Exercise normal safety precautions elsewhere in the Maldives.”

Sure enough, many pro-opposition supporters were injured and arrested yesterday after police in the Maldives broke up nationwide protests demanding the resignation of President Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

The unrest began when the president refused to obey a court order to release political prisoners and police arrested the country’s Chief Justice and other judges.

Written by Peter Needham

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