Yacht agents express worry about a decline in stopover visits to the Maldives by Passenger Liners, while the local boating industry highlights the problem of foreign yachts cruising in the Maldives without paying TGST on bookings. Passenger Liners visits and based foreign yachts cruising are two distinct matters. What is your perspective on this?

PUBLISHED January 05, 2024

Amir Mansoor
National Boating Association of Maldives
Foreign yachts cruising for less than 7 days with family and friends can be considered alright. However, they cannot change crew or any passengers after entering. If not, it should be considered as commercial cruises and should pay all taxes applicable.
Transit Passengers on Cruise Liners should not be charged TGST for their bed & lodging. However, foreign yachts on extended duration operating and offering check-in and checkout services in Maldives should apply TGST and other taxes.
I think Passenger Liners should be allowed to visit with T-GST exclusion on 1 or 2 days visit. However, for foreign boats based in the Maldives and doing check-in and check-out should be entitled fully for T-GST, Bed Tax and any other which local boats are compulsorily paying. Although the charter payment is paid through an OTA, It shouldn’t be an excuse to avoid sales tax for businesses conducted in the Maldives. Some foreign vessels have been based here for more than a year.
We are not concerned with Passenger Liners. I am content if they are paying the required tax to the government. However, operating foreign yachts in the Maldives without following the imposed regulations and prolonging their visit over the tourist visa duration (30 days) is our concern. I don’t think we have enough space for their operations in the central part of Maldives. Almost all the dive sites in central Maldives are overcrowded including surf grounds.
I believe Passenger Liners’ visits and foreign yachts cruising in Maldives will not affect the local boating community in any way as they belong to two different market segments. A decline in Passenger Liners traveling to the Maldives could result in a decrease in business for shops and establishments built by the local community, which will in turn negatively affect the local economy. Foreign yachts coming to the Maldives provide us with the level of rudimentary exposure required for us to evolve as a country in the global tourism market.