Published on Thursday, February 8, 2018

Maldives tourism hit as Chinese told not to visit

The Maldives tourism industry is facing ruin with Chinese travellers being asked to cancel any bookings and the ongoing political crisis showing no sign of being resolved.

China upgraded its travel alert, saying Chinese citizens should cancel their plans.

"In the light of the latest situation in Maldives, the Chinese Foreign Ministry has adjusted the security alert level and asked Chinese citizens to closely follow the local situation and not to travel to the Maldives," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang.

"If they have plans to go to the Maldives we advise them to cancel it. The Chinese government attaches great importance to the security of Chinese citizens including outbound tourists."

Almost 1.4 million people visited the Indian Ocean island nation last year and nearly a third were from China.

The UK Foreign Office has been advising British visitors to 'exercise caution' and to avoid any protests or rallies since a state of emergency was imposed in the capital Male on Monday. However, it is not warning against travel to the Maldives and it said there are no reports that any other islands or the international airport are affected.

Several other countries from Europe to the Americas have cautioned their citizens to consider not travelling due to the tense State of Emergency, imposed after the Maldives supreme court quashed convictions ranging from corruption to terrorism of nine opposition leaders, including former president Mohamed Nasheed. President Abdulla Yameen refused to obey a court order to release the political dissidents and police arrested the country's chief justice of the Supreme Court and another judge.

Maldives government spokesman Ibrahim Hussain Shihab said tourists' safety is not under threat and no curfew has been declared. The tourism industry has already seen a sharp fall in arrivals.

Maldives Voice tweeted: "Forty percent of guest houses are facing cancellations and the percentage is increasing. Countries all around the world are warning their citizens from visiting us and the tourism sector is losing business more than ever."

Ismail Hameed, the managing editor of Floating Asia said Maldives Association of Tourism Industry board member, Ibrahim Siyaadh Qasim, had been arrested.

Exiled Nasheed has called on India for military assistance to 'liberate' the Maldives.

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