Speaking in the second episode of South Asian Digital Travel Conversation hosted by SATA, Former President of Maldives Association of Tour Agents and Travel Operators (MATATO) Abdulla Ghiyas has said that the Aviation industry will bounce back given that rights actions are taken at the right time, however the world may not be the same afterwards.
Highlighting that China is the largest source market for Maldives as of 2019 with about 16.7 percent of market shares, Ghiyas said with the built of strong bilateral relations with China and other nations in addition to working with major tour operators and airlines will be beneficial in bringing in tourists when borders open and travel restrictions are minimized.
Travel restrictions have been implemented in over 180 countries which is a vast majority of the global travel demand, supporting the declaration by WHO as a global pandemic. Directly or indirectly approximately 80% of Maldives GDP depends on tourism. Ghiyas expects the dependency to be greater as the economy has suffered heavily over the past month and half.
Emphasizing on the seriousness of the issue, former president of MATATO mentioned the hardships and problems faced by SMEs and even large enterprises due to COVID-19 and conveyed that many businesses will be unable to sustain without government support.
According to a recent IATAs analysis, around 75 percent of airlines worldwide may face bankruptcy without government help during this unprecedented crisis. Furthermore, airline passenger revenues are estimated to drop by $314 billion in 2020, a 55 percent decline compared to 2019.
Ghiyas says that Maldives should adopt the incoming changes to compete against other destinations, who have less stricter policies compared to the island nation. "Im sure the world will be a very different place when we come out of this crisis," said Ghiyas.
He also informed that Maldives borders will open in July 2020 as planned by the government only if the current situation in the Maldives remains controlled and the virus contained. The biggest priority is the safety of the people, doctors and health authorities are putting their utmost effort to prevent further spread of the virus in the community, says Ghiyas.
Across the world, preventative measures and policies have been introduced for the safety of travellers despite the cease of operations of numerous airlines. These measures include rapid testing on arrival and departure and social distancing in airports and airlines. Maldives will be following in these footsteps if the borders are to be opened as planned.