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Maldives unrest forces travellers to cancel trips


Written by Neha Kulkarni
| Mumbai |

Published: February 8, 2018 2:17 am





THERE has been an 18 per cent rise in cancellation of trips to Maldives in the past three days, reveals data from travel websites. The political unrest in Maldives is dissuading many travellers from planning trips to the otherwise popular tourist spot. India had issued an advisory to its nationals Tuesday, asking them not to undertake non-essential travel to the island nation. The unrest began after President Abdulla Yameen defied a Supreme Court ruling to reinstate opposition MPs and release political prisoners. An emergency was also declared in Maldives.

Aloke Bajpai, CEO and co-founder, Ixigo said, “While the government of Maldives has issued a statement saying it is safe to travel to the country, tourists from all over the world are concerned about their safety. We have been receiving quite a few queries from travellers, with around 16-18% considering cancelling their trip, or postponing their plans. With Maldives being among the most popular international tourist destinations for Indians, especially honeymooners, the unrest will surely impact a large number of travellers.”

According to another travel website Cox and Kings Limited, Male, the capital of Maldives, remains unaffected by the unrest. “Airlines from India and neighboring countries are operating their flights as per schedule and there has not been any cancellation. Travellers who have booked packages are not inconvenienced as they fly into the airports and immediately take a ferry or seaplane to their respective resorts that dot the various islands in the Maldives and there has not been any issue as far as travellers are concerned,” said Karan Anand — head, relationships, Cox & Kings Ltd.

“During last week itself, we’ve seen over 20 bookings being cancelled, with travellers choosing to travel to either Sri Lanka or other beach destinations like Thailand or Malaysia. Maldives being a popular honeymoon and tourism destination, sees a large influx of Indian travellers during this season, but travellers are now looking elsewhere or postponing their travel plans in Maldives,” Kapil Goswamy, CMD, Big Breaks.com said.

On Tuesday, an official account of Maldives Embassy tweeted, “There’s absolutely no restriction or difficulty to tourists visiting #Maldives due to the current political situation. Resort islands, hotels, flights, airports, transfers, businesses, all services operate normally. Safety of public and visitors is a top priority of the government.”

Travel portals are assuring customers of alternative travel plans. “In light of the prevailing situation in Maldives, we are in touch with all our customers who are already at the destination. We are also speaking to travellers who have future travel bookings with us and explaining the situation to them. If anyone is choosing to cancel or postpone their travel, we are helping them make alternative plans,” said Sharat Dhall, COO (B2C), Yatra.com. “However, right now, most travellers are adopting a wait and watch approach, as the Maldivian government has also issued a statement assuring that tourists will not face any issues of any kind. Tourists who prefer Maldives, an upmarket beach destination, can now look at destinations like Mauritius and Seychelles,” Dhall added.

Karan Batra, who was planning his holiday to Maldives next month, said, “I expect the situation to normalise till then. If that doesn’t happen, I will plan a trip to another destination.”

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