The Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO) held a forum and a press conference to address the challenges confronting local agents in the Maldivian tourism sector.
One of the main topics discussed at the forum was taxation. Feedback from local agents suggested they perceive foreign operators might have certain fiscal benefits, potentially impacting competition.
There were also mentions of foreign travel agencies potentially operating in the Maldives through paper companies. Such practices might bypass typical regulatory procedures and raise questions about the adherence to local industry standards.
Banking emerged as another significant topic, with some local agents expressing difficulties, particularly surrounding card and remittance payments, indicating an area that might benefit from streamlined processes.
A focus was also given to the distinctions between tour operators and travel agents. There seems to be a call for more clarity in this area to avoid potential overlaps or misunderstandings.
Insurance for travel agents was another point of discussion, with suggestions for a comprehensive solution that could protect against issues like overbookings and other payment-related challenges.
There was also a mention of the potential advantages of a DmC protection law. Such a law might level the playing field when it comes to rate-setting for local and foreign agents alike.
Concerning outbound operations, discussions centred on taxes and outward remittances. There’s an indication that refining the existing framework might be beneficial for smoother operations.
The topic of foreign companies potentially operating General Sales Agent (GSA) functions without proper registration was also brought up. Such practices, if occurring, could bypass local regulations.
By fostering informed dialogues and presenting comprehensive insights, such initiatives champion a proactive approach to address these concerns. In turn, this facilitates the development of a stronger and more balanced tourism sector, ensuring local stakeholders play a central role in moulding the industry’s trajectory.