President Abdulla Yameen has warned of adverse impacts on tourism from threats against tourists and urged Maldivians to leave aside political differences to assure a safe and secure environment for investors and tourists alike.
Yameen’s statement comes in the aftermath of a death threat issued against Jamaican dancehall artist Sean Paul who is scheduled to perform in Malé on New Year’s Eve.
“Even if such incidences do not actually disrupt the peace, if [guests] believe there is any danger, if they believe there is a threat, we are in effect pouring water into a bottomless container,” Yameen said in a speech in Addu City last night.
The President’s Office yesterday said that the online death threat against Sean Paul was a “local hoax” aimed at damaging the country’s reputation.
An investigation has revealed the threat is “designed to dissuade visitors, create an atmosphere of fear” and aimed “at tarnishing the longstanding reputation of the Maldives as a destination of peace, security, and tranquility,” the President’s Office said.
The video, which has since been removed, promised Sean Paul that “the world will see your burnt and blood drenched dead body,” should he perform in the Maldives.
Representatives of the singer are reported to be undecided about whether the performance is to go ahead.
The tourism ministry’s statistics have meanwhile revealed a 5.1 percent decline in tourist arrivals in November compared to the same month last year.
However, the Maldives welcomed 1.1 million arrivals by November’s end due to a strong growth in arrivals in the first half of the year. The figure amounts to a 7.9 percent increase in arrivals compared to 2013.
President Yameen said the government aims to bring the world’s wealthy to the Maldives and said Maldivians must find common ground with the government despite differences in political ideologies.
“With utmost sincerity, I note it will not be the same leaders ruling the country. Today it is me. Tomorrow it will be someone else. But Maldivians will continue to live on this land. This land must be peaceful,” he said.
Maldivians must not allow foreigners the opportunity to influence the country’s internal affairs, he continued.
“We must not call on foreign militants to come to the Maldives claiming the situation is bad in the Maldives,” he said.
The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has expressed concern over declining tourist arrivals at the onset of the peak tourist season in the Maldives, blaming the government for lack of a clear policy on tourism and ad-hoc decisions to levy additional tourism taxes.
Noting a seven percent decline in arrivals from European Union, a 22 percent decline from Eastern Europe, four percent from the United Kingdom, 24 percent from France, three percent from Italy, and a 13 percent decline from India in November, opposition leader and former President Mohamed Nasheed in a tweet said “the government’s policy will damage the industry”.
Tourists from the European Union made up 43.3 percent of arrivals while Chinese tourists made up 31.4 percent of arrivals. Russian arrivals declined by 31 percent this year due to the economic downturn in the country.
Nasheed said the threat against Sean Paul is the latest threat to artists by extremists in the country, arguing that “Government support for and refusal to prosecute them [extremists] will affect tourism.”
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