The Maldives Association of Yacht Agents (MAYA) has reported a decrease in cruise ships arriving in Maldives due to the recent changes in tax regulations introduced last September.
Under the new guidelines, a 16 per cent Goods and Services Tax (GST) is levied on the daily rate for each passenger room on cruise ships. This change has significantly impacted the decision-making of cruise lines, with many opting to divert to alternative destinations.
A senior official from MAYA highlighted the complexity and burden of these new tax requirements, stating, “The new rules require every charter to pay tax. That’s not an easy way to do that.”
One immediate consequence of this shift was the cancellation of the MS Bolette, operated by Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, which was scheduled to arrive in Maldives with 800 passengers. The decision to cancel this and potentially other cruise ship arrivals underscores the growing reluctance of operators to include Maldives in their itineraries.
The MAYA official emphasised that unless these rules are revised, Maldives will lose a significant portion of its cruise ship traffic. The current practice of taxing individual rooms rather than charging a total fee is particularly contentious and could lead to a broader boycott by major players in the industry.