Slow recovery raises tourism fears in Maldives
According to the Maldives High Commission in Colombo, by October, just 304,000 tourists visited Maldives in the year 2005.india Updated: Dec 22, 2005 15:40 IST
Industry insiders in Maldives have raised fears that European tourists may continue to stay away from the country, following slow recovery post tsunami.
The country faced another disappointing month in October as regards tourist arrivals, a report in the website of Minivan News said on Thursday.
According to the Maldives High Commission in Colombo, by October just 304,000 tourists visited Maldives in 2005.
This follows disappointing statistics in August, when Maldives received 38,366 tourists, way below the 52,137 figure the Maldives Tourism Promotion Board (MTPB) MTPB had hoped for, the Minivan News reported.
"We have carried out an aggressive marketing campaign through our tourism promotion board over the course of this year," said the Maldives' high commissioner in Colombo, Mohamed Asim.
Commentators note that tourists might continue to stay away from Maldives over the long-term, questioning the viability of the government's rush to tender more islands for resort development.
"Nine of the 21 resorts damaged in the tsunami are yet to reopen, and news after the disaster that 69 of the 199 inhabited islands had been entirely covered by the tidal waves did not help inspire tourists looking for a tropical paradise," the daily said.
"While many of the hotels and resorts damaged in the tsunami are yet to be rebuilt, Maldives faces competition from a number of other destinations that also boast sun, turquoise waters, white-sand beaches and swaying palm trees."
The depression in tourism - the mainstay of the economy - tipped Maldives into recession this year, after a decade of positive growth.
Foreign Minister, Dr Shaheed, said that the economy was set to shrink by over 2% this year, from an 8 per cent growth rate last year. "We are in perhaps the worst position for decades."