Guesthouses express concerns over indefinite suspension of operations

Guesthouse Association of the Maldives (GAM) has expressed concerns over the indefinite suspension of guesthouse operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

GAM expressed the concerns in a report released to publicise the results of a survey conducted among 40 local guesthouses. The report stated all guesthouses which took part in the survey are struggling to pay its staff, adding several staff have been sent on no-pay leaves as the guesthouses currently do not generate any income. Noting most guesthouses are small and medium enterprises, the report stated several guesthouses are facing significant difficulties in preparing to reopen.

The report further stated the indefinite suspension of guesthouse operations is an issue of concern, as an extended period of closure would incur further damages to the businesses. The report revealed the income of guesthouses would increase by 60% to 80% in about 8-10 months, if permitted to reopen in September.

The Maldives reopened its borders for tourists on July 15, nearly four months after borders were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although resorts and safaris were permitted to resume services upon reopening borders, the government has not permitted guesthouses to resume services.

The government initially planned to reopen guesthouses this month. However, following a second wave of COVID-19 cases in the country, the government decided to postpone reopening of guesthouses. The government has recently announced plans to permit guesthouses to reopen in September.