Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO) on Thursday called on banks operating in the Maldives to lower their charges and fees in order to support Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
In a statement, the non-profit said the lobbying efforts were carried out during the Maldives Financial Expo 2017, organised by the central bank.
At the opening day of the three-day expo, MATATO cited several studies, including a recent survey funded by UNDP, and told bank officials that local travel agents contribute to about 25 percent of total tourist arrivals to the Maldives. Together with guesthouses and safari boats, they have a combined market share of close to 40-50 percent of total arrivals to the country, it added.
“But the support these sectors get from banks in the Maldives is very limited,” the statement read.
MATATO pointed out that interest rates for SMEs are too high as 9-11 percent is not feasible for most small businesses. Despite acknowledging the Credit Guarantee Scheme initiated by Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA), the association stressed that the requirement of high equity and collateral has been another challenge.
The issue of high bank charges for inward remittances, withdrawals, card transactions, merchant trade services and cross border transactions was highlighted as well, with the central bank’s support sought to intervene and regulate the banking sector with a view towards helping local travel agents, guesthouses and liveaboards.
“The association also asked the support from MMA to help foreign banks in the Maldives to support small businesses than rather focusing on only high net worth clients,” the statement read.
After years of double-digit growth in tourism, the Maldives has over the recent years observed a slowdown in growth despite recent gains. Tourist arrivals have crossed the one million milestone and is on course to reach 1.5 million by the end of this year, but the country has been struggling to create demand amidst a significant increase in bed capacity.
Over the past three years, dozens of uninhabited islands have been leased to local and foreign resort developers. Several international brands have entered into the market, increasing the number of resorts to 120. That number is set to increase as the government has announced the opening of some 20 new resorts by the end of this year.
Along with the new resort openings come the challenge of increasing demand from budget travellers who choose guesthouses over luxury resorts that the Maldives is known for. The guesthouse sector has rapidly expanded with over 300 guesthouses in operation today.
Government has come under fire from private organisations representing industry stakeholders such as the Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO) over the lack of effort and budget to promote the Maldives as a destination.
The government has recently announced new steps to maintain a structured growth in tourism, including a slowdown in leasing islands for resort development and increased marketing efforts in key markets such as China and the Middle East in order to reach an ambitious target of a record 1.5 million tourist arrivals this year.
Photo: Avas Online
Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) holds its 34th Annual General Meeting
The Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) held its 34th Annual General Meeting at Kurumba Maldives today, with a total of 100 members in attendance.
The day’s events began with a welcome address from the Chairman of MATI, Mr. Mohamed Umar, who also presided over the session. The agenda included an address from the Secretary General, Mr. Ahmed Nazeer, the review and approval of the minutes of the 33rd AGM, the review and adoption of the Annual Report and Financial Reports for 2023, the approval of the 2024 budget, the appointment of auditors for 2024, the welcoming of new members and election of executive board members to the two vacant positions (by-election).
In the member discussion session, the following topics were covered: the Government’s aim to reach net-zero emissions by 2023 and renewable energy generation in the Tourism Industry, new terminal of Velana International Airport and developments, employment challenges, the Industrial Relations Act and trade unions, environmental conservation and the significance of creating and executing efficient management plans for protected areas like the South Ari Marine Protected Area (SAMPA).
Following the official proceedings, the Minister of Tourism Hon. Ibrahim Faisal and the Minister of Economic Development and Trade Hon. Mohamed Saeed joined the forum. The Ministers provided remarks and engaged in a Member Q&A session. This session provided members with the chance to directly engage with the Ministers and delve into crucial industry topics. The queries focused on the Economic Outlook, forthcoming development plans and immediate challenges and issues affecting the Tourism Industry.
A video presentation was also showcased that delved into the extensive work undertaken by MATI in 2023. The video also touched upon the Tourism Industry’s performance over the past 5 years, as well as the current and projected human resource capacity of the sector.
In his closing remarks, the Secretary General highlighted the importance of collaborative efforts in addressing industry challenges and called for greater unison amongst industry stakeholders, ending with an acknowledgement of the promising start to the year in terms of arrivals.
Executive Board Members elected to the 2 vacant positions (by-election):
- Ibrahim Shareef, CEO and Managing Director of Maldives Airports Company Limited
- Renato De Olivera, General Manager of The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands and representative of Marriott International
Unlocking power of travel storytelling at Travel Creators Exchange 2024
Join us for the Travel Creators Exchange 2024, taking place on February 1, 2024, at the Hotel Jen in Male’, Maldives.
This dynamic event provides a platform for networking and collaboration among Maldives-based travel creators, fostering connections, idea-sharing, and the establishment of lasting partnerships to expand opportunities and monetise content.
Our lineup of distinguished speakers includes:
- Zihuny Rasheed, Deputy Managing Director of MMPRC, will present on “Power of Digital Storytelling: Collaborative Strategies for Destination Promotion.” MMPRC actively markets the Maldives globally, utilising a comprehensive approach that includes travel trade shows, roadshows, digital marketing, and more.
- Amjad Thaufeeg, Commercial Director of Kuda Villingili Maldives Resort, brings over 23 years of hospitality industry experience. He will discuss “The Role of Content in Tourism Marketing,” drawing on expertise in revenue, customer service, sales & marketing, and human capital development.
- Suresh Dissanayake, Assistant Vice President of Sales & Marketing of Heritance Aarah & Adaaran Resorts, with nearly two decades of experience, will shed light on “What does a Sales and Marketing Director Do?” He brings extensive luxury hospitality experience and a proven track record in sales, distribution, and marketing.
- Vishal Amir Ahmed, a versatile cinematographer and content creator, will explore “Who is a Content Creator.” Currently associated with Various Arts Studio, he specialises in providing multimedia solutions to various clients.
Organised by Maldives Insider, Maldives Virtual Tour, Travel Trade Maldives, and Hotelier Maldives, this collaborative effort aims to empower Maldives-based travel content creators and elevate the Maldives as a premier destination for captivating travel storytelling.
Acclaimed contemporary artist Ana Pušica explores perpetuality and community at Patina Maldives
Ana Pušica Kramer, an internationally acclaimed contemporary artist, joins Patina Maldives for an exclusive art residency in the now infamous Fari Art Atelier. From January 22 to February 22, 2024, Ana Pušica will grace the shores of the Fari Islands, weaving a vibrant narrative of colour and emotion across her larger than-life canvases.
Her artistry transcends boundaries, melding abstraction and figuration into awe-inspiring masterpieces. Having exhibited globally, from New York to Beijing, Ana’s paintings are a physical, intuitive act rooted in movement. Described as a “beautiful fluorescent thunderstorm,” Ana’s art explores light and colour, capturing the energy of life itself.
The Fari Art Atelier which has previously hosted the likes of Daniel Arsham, Chris Stamp and David Nott, will be transformed into Ana’s studio and gallery showcasing her enthralling artworks—a mesmerising journey through poetry, memory, and the vibrant interplay of colour. Guests at Patina are invited to delve into Ana’s world, where each stroke reveals layers of meaning, evoking sensations of intense lightness and boundless interpretation.
At Patina Maldives, Ana will immerse herself in a month-long residency, inviting the Patina Malidves community or guests and team to witness her artistic fervour firsthand. Guests will have the rare opportunity not only to observe her creative process but also to engage with and create art alongside this luminary.
Experience artistry at its most exclusive
Experience Ana’s captivating exploration of colour and emotion in her spellbinding artworks displayed at the Fari Atelier.
Art Workshops: Message in a Bottle
As part of a collaborative artwork, Ana invites Patina guests to participate in short workshops, actively contributing to the creation of a permanent installation at Patina Maldives.
Open Studio Session
Join Ana for an exclusive open studio session, offering guests a behind the-scenes look at her creative process.
Ana Pušica residency package
Discover a world where creativity knows no bounds as Ana Pušica, the maestro of contemporary art, transforms Patina Maldives into an immersive canvas of inspiration.
Book now to secure your experience.
For more information and reservations, please visit Patina Maldives or contact
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