Maldives Customs Services has brought significant changes to its Regulation, including changes to the current fee structure, and the procedures being followed for the tourist yachts anchoring to HA. Atoll Uligan. As such, the 09th amendment (No. 2020/R-33) of the Regulation Number 2011/R-41 (Customs General Regulation 2011) has been gazetted on 23rd May 2020.
Due to certain regulations imposed by the government and increase in the fees charged, there has been a huge decline in the number of yachts anchoring to Uligan since 2010.
However, during his 2018 election campaign, one of the main pledges by His Excellency President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, was to increase the number of yachts visiting the island and pledged to revise the current fee structure and to flourish Uligan Yatch Tourism.
To fulfill the pledge of the President, Maldives Integrated Tourism, Development Corporation and Maldives Customs Services initiated one day symposium under “Uligan Yacht Symposium” on 30th January 2020, hosting stakeholder discussions to study possible avenues to ease the fees and further develop the island’s stake as a yacht tourism hub. This successful symposium was concluded with full assurance from respective authorities to work together to solve the issues.
As per the 09th amendment, below are the changes are brought:
Clause 59 (a) – Travelling without a shipping agent: Any tourist vessel travelling to Maldives will be given a duration of 72 hrs. (after the Inward clearance has been given) to appoint a shipping agent. If failed to do so, the owner or the master of the vessel will be charged with a fine as per the regulation. Outward clearance will be given once the fine has been paid to the Authority.
Clause 59 (b) – Tourist vessels which are smaller than 15 meters, mooring/transiting in Maldives to provision (food, oil, water or other basic necessities) will be granted 7 days without the requirement to appoint a shipping agent and may anchor at a location approved by Maldives Customs Services. (Eg: anchoring at Ha. Uligan Port)
Clause 62 – Information submission of tourist vessels – Tourist vessels smaller than 15 meters are required to submit estimated time of arrival prior to 12 hours of arriving to Maldives. However, in the event that this is not possible, documents for inward clearance are required to be submitted along with the reason for not being able to be informed during the mentioned time frame.
Clause 62 (b) – Changes to the estimated time of arrival shall be informed via mediums set by Maldives Customs Services. (Eg: Electronic mail)
10 – Inward and Outward clearance fee changed to MVR 250 (one way) for tourist vessels smaller than 15 meters. (Previously MVR 1000 per one way was charged for the service)
Inward and outward clearance fee of MVR 1000 will be charged for tourist vessels except those smaller than 15 meters. (These are vessels which are larger than those arriving to HA Uligan and the clause is related to other vessels anchoring in the Maldives)
Amendments brought to the regulation are mainly regarding the services provided to the smaller tourist vessels commonly anchoring to Uligan. With the changes brought to the regulation and compared to the fees charged earlier by Maldives Customs Services, the charges have been reduced by 75%. This change will ease and further develop the yacht tourism in Uligan.
The Maldives Integrated Tourism Development Corporation is tasked with “enhancing tourism sector gains and promoting participation of small and medium sized businesses in the sector,”. Keeping this in mind, MITDC will provide support to Uligan to develop and flourish yacht tourism in the Island.