Maldivian tourism: Shaken but not stirred
Male: Political instability in Maldives might have tarnished a bit of the country's image as the tropical tourist paradise but everyone here is keeping their fingers crossed.
Maldives known for its deep blue seas, turquoise reefs, white sandy beaches and palm trees attracts several lakh tourists every year, more than its total population of about 3.5 lakh.
Even though the unrest this week following the ouster of president Mohamed Nasheed might have shaken the tourists – the mainstay of Maldivian economy - a bit, no serious damage can be seen.
"We had planned this event three months ago. We are going straight to our resort. Our tour operator says the unrest is only in certain areas and not where we are going," Col (Retd) Manohar S Karpe said at the Male airport.
He, along with 26 others, has come from India. While Col (retd) Kirpe was confident, his friend Ajit Shrowty, a retired official, was a little apprehensive.
"When I first came to know about the incident, I was a little apprehensive about the safety part. I checked with my tour operators and others. They all told me that everything is safe on the resort island," he said.
According to airport officials, there has been no change in the tourists' inflow following the unrest that has captured global headlines.
"The number of flights operating is the same as before. The airport island and the resort islands continue to remain calm," Andrew Harrison, CEO of GMR Male' International Airport said.
He added, "Unrest is in Male and most tourists don't even see the capital. They get down at the airport and go straight to the islands."
The airport project, of about USD 500 million, is the single largest investment in Maldives. Asked if the political instability will affect the project, which includes building a new state-of-the-art terminal building, Harrison said, "There are no changes in plans. Work is going on. We are confident that the agreement we have will be respected."