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Maldives says tourism unhindered by political crisis


18:41, March 07, 2013

MALE, March 7 (Xinhua) -- The Maldivian government on Thursday said that the country's tourism industry had not been affected by the recent political turmoil.

Presidential spokesperson Imad Mashood told Xinhua that although protests had broken out in the capital Male, the tourist resorts were situated in adjoining islands, so tourists had not been affected by the political crisis.

"The island's tourism has not at all been affected. Whatever has happened has been happening in Male and not in the islands where the resorts are located. Therefore the island's tourism sector is booming as before," Mashood said.

Mashood blamed former president Mohamed Nasheed for creating an unwanted political crisis and making an attempt to tarnish the image of the island nation and its economy which mainly strives on its tourism sector, fishing and shipping.

Violent protests broke out Male this week following the arrest of Mohamed Nasheed on Tuesday, after the Hulhumale Magistrates Court issued a warrant, a move which many hoteliers said would discourage tourists from arriving in the island.

More than 80 people were arrested by the Maldivian police within 24 hours while Nasheed was held in a detention facility in an adjoining island before he was produced to court on Wednesday afternoon and freed.

His trial has been postponed by four weeks, his party announced soon after the court proceedings.

Hoteliers believe that the political unrest would only discourage the tourism sector which has been thriving successfully especially in its peak season during the months of December to April.

Tourism has been the Maldives' largest economic activity and accounts for 28 percent of the gross domestic product and more than 60 percent of foreign exchange receipts. Over 90 percent of government tax revenues comes from import duties and tourism- related taxes.

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