A deepening political crisis has made things difficult for locals and tourists alike
The South Asian island country, located in the Indian Ocean, is a popular hotspot for tourists seeking blue waters and white beaches. But tensions are high after President Abdulla Yameen defied the Maldivian Supreme Court’s order to release opposition party members and dispatched the military to blockade the courtroom. With protests expected to grow in The Maldives’ capital, Malé, is it still safe to travel there?In a statement last week the Maldives government reassured visitors that they would still be welcome. "All tourism related businesses will be operating as usual and the situation of the Maldives remains stable," the statement read, according to CNN. "The state of Emergency does not force any restrictions on traveling to the Maldives or within the Maldives." Travel + Leisure has reached out to the Maldives government for comment and will update if it responds.
The U.S. State Department issued a travel alert Monday warning prospective visitors that demonstrations are expected to carry on from Feb. 6 to Feb. 15, the end of the 15-day State of Emergency. “Groups expected to protest in central Male in response to emerging political developments,” the State Department’s travel account tweeted. “Monitor local media for updates.”
The State Department also issued a travel advisory asking tourists to “exercise increased caution in Maldives due to terrorism and civil unrest.” The New York Times reported last June that The Maldives, a Muslim-majority country, has grappled with Islamic radicalism in recent months.
The State Department’s advisory says “[t]errorist groups may conduct attacks with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities.”
“Attacks may occur on remote islands which could lengthen the response time of authorities,” the advisory continues. The island nation is currently at the travel advisory level 2 of 4, with 4 being the most dangerous.
The State Department recently rolled out a new travel advisory system designed to improve clarity under President Donald Trump, but since The Maldives State of Emergency was declared on Feb. 5, the State Department has yet to update those advisory levels.
The U.K.’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), which also issues travel advisories, recently responded to the latest developments in The Maldives. “If you’re in Malé, you should exercise caution and avoid any protests or rallies,” the advisory reads. “There are no reports that outlying islands, resorts or Malé International Airport are affected.”
“Most visits to Maldives are trouble free,” the FCO adds. “The most common problems faced by visiting British nationals are lost and stolen passports, and swimming and diving related accidents.”