The Ministry of Tourism has revised the tariff structure imposed on international tourist vessels docking in Maldivian waters in response to concerns raised by the Maldives Association of Yacht Agents (MAYA). MAYA, an organisation that facilitates visiting cruise liners, had previously expressed concerns that the recent escalation in tariffs and taxes was causing cruise liners to reconsider their itineraries to the Maldives.

The ‘regulation governing foreign tourist vessels cruising and harbouring in Maldivian waters,’ enacted in September 2023, had necessitated the appointed agent of the cruise ships to ensure the payment of any outstanding fees or taxes to the Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA) before the ship’s departure.

The regulation also stipulated a US$1,000 fee for a cruising permit on international tourist vessels exceeding 20 metres in size that remained in the country for a duration exceeding seven days post-customs clearance. A 16 percent Goods and Services Tax (GST) was also levied on the daily rate for each passenger room on the cruise ships.

However, the newly published regulations by the tourism ministry have revised the tariff structure imposed on passenger liners and yachts. As per the revised regulations, passenger liners, defined as vessels visiting for less than seven days and accommodating over 50 passengers, will be exempted from the daily US$100 fee and the charter licence fee.

These passenger liners, however, will still be obligated to pay a daily US$850 fee. While the tourism ministry issues all cruising permits for international tourist vessels, vessels exceeding 20 metres in length are required to remit US$1,000 to obtain a cruising permit. Smaller vessels are granted permits without a fee. With the publication of the revised regulations, the previous regulation enacted in September last year has been rescinded.

In 2022, six passenger liners made their voyage to the Maldives, bringing in an average of 700 to 2,000 passengers per ship. According to industry experts, the cruise line tourism industry plays a pivotal role in the Maldivian tourism sector. Passengers often extend their stay overnight in tourist resorts and guesthouses and undertake visits to local islands, bolstering local island tourism and driving sales of souvenirs and guest shops on local islands.