Bank of Maldives announces $2 mln emergency financing facility for worst-hit tourism sector amidst coronavirus outbreak

Bank of Maldives (BML) on Sunday announced a $2 million short-term financing facility for the tourism industry, as the island nation reels from the huge economic impact of preventive measures against the global coronavirus pandemic.

The country’s largest bank announced the emergency financing facility, together with the country’s tourism ministry and the Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI).

The financing solution allows operational resorts and guesthouses finance up to $2 million to manage their working capital requirements, with a repayment period of three years.

“Although any impact will depend on the extent and duration of the outbreak, our tourism industry and local businesses are already facing an unprecedented set of challenges. As the national bank, it is our responsibility to support these businesses through this period. Together with our partners, the short-term financing solution announced today will help manage working capital requirements, to cushion the impact,” Bank of Maldives CEO and MD Tim Sawyer was quoted in a statement, as saying.

To apply for the facility, customers can get in touch with their Relationship Manager, visit the nearest branch or call the bank’s Contact Centre at 3330200 for further details.

BML operates a nationwide network of 38 branches across all 20 atolls, 51 self service banking centres, 115 ATMs, 277 agents and a full suite of digital banking services.

Maldives last week reported its first cases of the novel coronavirus, as two hotel employees tested positive for Covid-19 at a luxury resort in the archipelago. Eleven more cases — all foreigners working at resorts — have since been identified.

Maldives had taken several preventive measures against the spread of the new coronavirus, COVID-19.

The Maldives had closed its borders to arrivals from the worst-hit countries, including mainland China, Italy, Iran and Spain, as well as some parts of Germany and South Korea.

Cruise ships had also been banned from docking at any of the country’s ports.

All direct flights to and from China, Italy, South Korea and Iran had also been cancelled.

Meanwhile, inter-island travel of tourists, including for excursions, have been banned. Guesthouses and hotels in capital Male and its suburbs of Hulhumale and Villimale have also been shut down.

The island nation had installed thermal screening cameras at its international airports.

Quarantine facilities, including designated islets from the 1,192 islands that make up the archipelago, had also been established.

The global coronavirus outbreak is expected to hit the Maldivian economy hard, as tourism contributes the bulk of the island nation’s state revenue and foreign reserves.

The government has already announced several cost cutting measures, including a freeze on the hiring of new staff and suspension of non-essential travel by state officials.

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