MATATO urges Maldivian to introduce scheduled flights to Europe


MATATO VP Shaaz Waleed / Photo: Maldives Travel Hotels

Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO) Vice President Shaaz Waleed has said that the national airline’s flights to Europe would be more profitable instead of increasing the tax on tourism services.

The government has decided to increase the rates of GST and TGST. Speaking about the matter on Raajje TV’s “Fala Suruhee” program, Shaaz said one of the biggest concerns of tourists is the increase in rates in Maldives, especially in the price of air fares.

A ticket to Maldives from an Eastern European country costs between EUR 2,000 and EUR 3,000, while staying in the Maldives also costs the same amount, he said. In addition, the tourists are charged TGST, Green Tax, an Airport Tax and other fees, he said, adding that if the TGST rate is increased further, it will have a bad outcome in the long run.

Shaaz said it is important to consider bringing tourists via the national airlines instead of raising taxes. Previously, 4.8 million tourists visited Maldives and their tickets alone cost USD 3.1 billion, he said. It is a profit taken by people using Maldives, he said, adding that instead of raising taxes, the national airline should be strengthened.

Shaaz said it would be more profitable if Maldivian Airlines started flying to Europe. He said USD 200 million or USD 300 million in revenue could be generated if Maldivian brought 350,000 tourists a year. An additional $20 million will be received, which is more than the expected MVR 200 million expected after the current tax increase, he said.

The government is working to increase GST and TGST from January 1 next year as part of its plans to increase government revenue. GST will be increased from 6 per cent to 8 per cent and TGST from 12 per cent to 16 per cent.

According to the statistics published by Ministry of Tourism, by the end of May 2022, nearly 140,000 tourists arrived from Central and Eastern Europe, and a total of 450,000 tourists arrived from Europe. In 2021, over 390,000 arrived from Central and Eastern Europe and over 772,000 arrived from Europe.