Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid has said that restoration of flights from China is important for Covid-19 economic recovery.
The minister made the statement in a video message sent for the virtual reception held to commemorate the founding of the 71st anniversary of the People’s Republic of China on Thursday, where he also congratulated the country on behalf of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, the government and people of Maldives.
Shahid said that China has “accomplished an extraordinary number of milestones on progress and economic prosperity since its founding in 1949,” adding that it has “continued to demonstrate its leadership in important global areas, such as public health.”
He also thanked the Chinese people, the provincial governments, and a number of Chinese companies for assisting the Maldives during the ongoing pandemic, and expressed hope that Maldives will benefit from the vaccines that are currently being developed by a number of Chinese pharmaceutical companies.
Furthermore, the minister noted that the most important goal for the Maldives during the ongoing economic recovery is to increase tourist arrivals to the country and urged “the restoration of flights, trade, connectivity and people to contact between Maldives and China at the earliest possible opportunity.”
He added that this can be done “while committing to further strengthen existing ties between the countries.”
Further noting that this year marked the 48the anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Maldives and China, Shahid said that these ties are “based on strong historic bonds, sovereign equality and mutual respect for territorial integrity.”
The foreign minister also reaffirmed the incumbent government’s “full commitment” to the One-China Policy.
The highest number of tourist arrivals from a single country in 2019 was from China.
As per a report by the Ministry of Tourism, 284,029 tourists arrived from China, which is a 0.3 percent increase compared to the previous year.
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has had an immense impact on the Maldives economy given that the the country’s most lucrative industry, the tourism industry was brought to a standstill for nearly four months with border closure in late March. While borders were reopened on July 15, tourist arrivals have been lower that anticipated, and the two million arrivals target set for 2020 has been reduced to about 120,000.