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UNDP Global

Rapid Livelihood Assessment: Impact of the COVID-19 Crisis in the Maldives

Jun 5, 2020

As a country solely dependent on tourism, Maldives is amongst the worst affected countries in the Asia region and potentially globally, due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the emergence of confirmed cases of the virus in tourist resorts in early March 2020, the Government of Maldives introduced strict containment measures which eventually resulted in the suspension of on arrival visa for visitors at the end of April 2020. This meant that the Maldives tourism industry would completely close for three months until July 2020 which is unprecedented in the country’s history. It is estimated that these local containment measures as well as the pandemic’s impact on global travel will result in a decline in tourist arrivals for the year 2020 by 50 percent or more. This negative impact on tourism is expected to lead to a significant decline in the GDP growth for the year, the loss is expected to be in the range 11 to 30 percent with substantial declines in revenues for the Government.

The rapid assessment aimed to understand the extent and nature of impact of the COVID-19 crisis in the Maldives and support timely economic recovery planning. The first phase of the assessment aimed to understand the impact of the complete closure of the Maldives tourism industry on employment, livelihoods and the potential knock-on effects on their families and communities. The tourism sector was targeted because it is the largest industry and employer in the country, and it was the sector that was most exposed to the external shock. The data collection for this phase involved reviewing secondary data on tourism employment provided by the National Bureau of Statistics, analyzing secondary data extracted from the Government’s online job portal, and two primary data collection activities which included a phone survey with resort managers and an in-depth interview by phone and other online mediums with resort employees registered in the Government’s online job portal.