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The European Union (EU) has extended the deadline for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the Maldives tourism industry to apply for grant aid.
In December 2021, the EU began issuing grant aid for tourism sector SMEs to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, through the EU Support for a Resilient Recovery of SME Tourism Industry in the Maldives project. The application window was initially open for a 6-month period, which ended in May. However, the EU has extended the deadline for application submissions to August 31.
The Ministry of Economic Development has tasked Maldives Fund Management Corporation (MFMC) with disbursing the grant aid. MFMC received applications from 443 tourism sector SMEs as of May 31 and has so far disbursed USD73,000 to 346 businesses.
To be eligible for the grant aid, applicants must be a local, registered business in the Maldives in the guesthouse or liveaboard sector. The guesthouse or liveaboard must also consist of 40 beds or less. The economic ministry stated that the grant aid will be disbursed at a rate of USD160 per each bed operated by the eligible SMEs and that the grant aid will be disbursed to a total of 561 guesthouses and 126 liveaboards.
Under the EU Support for a Resilient Recovery of SME Tourism Industry in the Maldives project, the EU has dedicated USD2 million to SMEs in the Maldives tourism industry, which aims to enable a more resilient and diversified economy in the Maldives. Under the initiative, the EU has dedicated USD1.5 million to a direct transfer component, while USD632,000 is allocated towards technical assistance, which will be directed to training programmes for beneficiaries aimed at high-impact areas such as improving business operations, and financial management, sustainable waste management, and creating access to international markets.
Furthermore, the technical assistance component will also support the set-up of a system that will act as a strategically important tool that is expected to play a crucial role in retaining value created by the industry and promoting the growth of tourism-related SMEs.