Interviews

Jaromír Kalčic: There Is No Travel Agency in The World That Doesn’t Have The Maldives

Published: 21. 4. 2021
Author: Karel Černý
Photo: Photo archives of Jaromír Kalčic and Shutterstock.com
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He has never been an MP, a minister, or an ambassador, he has not pursued diplomacy professionally, his profession is in a completely different field. Nevertheless, Jaromír Kalčic became the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Maldives in the Czech Republic. The consulate was opened in Prague earlier this year.

The introductory question is obvious - how did you become the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Maldives?

I love travelling, getting to know other cultures, I have travelled to many countries. One of my business opportunities brought me to the Maldives, where I established very good, friendly relationships. In the following years, we worked on various projects in the Maldives. Due to the location of the islands, many issues can be attended to only by foreign companies that have significant experience with technology installations in the coastal areas of their country, or do jobs they have been referred to in technological installations in the deep currents of the ocean. One day the minister and I flew early in the morning from the capital of Male to one of the northern atolls, where we were looking into the issue of waste treatment. And as we were having lunch, I was asked if I would be open to serving as Honorary Consul for the Maldives. The next day I accepted the offer. The approval and commissioning process itself took more than two years.

What is the main content of your work?

My mission is to connect the Maldives with Czechia culturally, economically and commercially. As for the specific activities, I can mention, for example, Maldivian students - there are currently around sixty of them in Czechia. We are intensively addressing their visa requirements at the consulate, preparing interesting programmes for them, and also working to provide vaccines. Naturally, it's not just about students - my job is to provide assistance and information to all Maldivian citizens staying in the Czech Republic for a long or short time, to help them with any difficulties, and to solve their problems. It goes without saying that we work in the opposite direction, therefore, we handle all inquiries from Czechs who are going to the Maldives. We anticipate that there will be more and more of them, as we only opened the consulate at the beginning of this year, and I think that many people still have no idea that the Maldives has its embassy in Czechia. And there is another aspect. At first, I didn't even think that such a small country could have, besides tourism, some more business potential. Today, I know that in addition to current business activities, the Maldives also have the potential to target strategic business in industry and medicine.

What interests Czechs the most?

Most often up-to-date information on the conditions of entry into the country, or how individual health insurance works. However, there are also a number of questions as to whether marriage in the Maldives is also valid in the Czech Republic.

And is it?

Unfortunately, it is not. It is only a symbolic ceremony. So you can organize your dream wedding - and believe me, it’s incredibly beautiful and romantic - on the beach of any Maldives atoll, but you will need confirmation for its legalization, with witnesses before the Czech authorities.

You also mentioned business activities. What can they be like?

The Maldivian government is still developing the country and is constantly working on other investment plans concerning not only the uninhabited islands, of which there are hundreds, but also, for example, interconnection of individual atolls by road bridges. Other major development projects are under construction at Hulhumale, including the planned yacht marina and cruise terminal. All this just proves that the Maldives are preparing for an ever-increasing influx of tourists from all over the world and will definitely have something to offer them. And not only in the field of tourism, but also in infrastructure, industry and the like.

Let's go back to tourism - Although the coronavirus hasn’t skipped the Maldives, they are still open to tourists and last year they had over half a million visitors, which, according to CNN, is one of the most successful figures in tourism during the pandemic. What is the situation like now? What kind of security measures are in place there?

You are right that in the current difficult times, when most countries have closed their borders and therefore there are not many opportunities to travel, the Maldives have taken the opposite strategy and remained one of the few countries open to tourists. Of course, this is also due to the distance of individual small atolls, which eliminates the risk of infection. The situation in the Maldives is very mild in this respect, most cases of the illness are in the area of the capital Malé, where tourists aren’t going now. The so-called 3R rules are strictly observed, and they are massively testing. All travellers must produce a negative PCR test in English upon arrival, which must not be older than 96 hours before departure for the Maldives. The test result is submitted in paper or electronic form at the check-in of the flight, in the case of transit exceeding 24 hours, the passenger must take another test within 72 hours before embarking on the next flight. It is obligatory to wear masks, in the capital of Malé, and the mentioned rule 3R applies on inhabited islands. At resorts, only staff wear masks, the guest can fully enjoy their holiday without restrictions. Transfers between individual atolls are monitored. In addition, the government is now negotiating the so-called "vaccine tourism", which means that those who will be vaccinated against COVID will be able to travel to the Maldives without submitting PCR tests.

According to the Maldivian Ministry of Tourism, in the period from the beginning of the year until 4th February, Czechia ranked 9th in the number of tourists who visited the islands. Do you expect this trend to continue and increase?

Definitely. After all, in 2020 the Maldives won the global competition for the most prestigious tourist destination. And I will correct you: according to the latest report issued by the Ministry of Tourism of the Maldives, Czechia ranked not ninth, but seventh in the ranking of countries from where the tourists have been coming from. This shows that Czechs love travelling and going to exotic destinations. As far as the trend is concerned, of course, everything will depend on the current anti-epidemic measures in both countries. But I am sure that there is no travel agency in the world that does not have the Maldives in its portfolio.

What places would you recommend tourists to visit?

The Maldives have 202 inhabited islands, out of which there are a few really beautiful and almost untouched by tourists. Some of the most beautiful inhabited islands include Dhigurah and Omadhoo on Alif Dhaa atoll, which are home to the giant shark, then Fulhadhoo, Fehendhoo and Goidhoo Atoll, where Czech Lucie Mohelníková does business with her travel agency. Some of the others are, Fodhdhoo on Noonu Atolll or Vashafaru and Kelaa on Haa Alif Atoll. There are about 160 tourist resorts on the Maldives. One of the affordable ones, is for instance, the Sun Island on Alif Dhaal Atoll, in the middle category it is, for example, the Reethi Faru, and among the luxurious ones I have to mention Velaa Private Island on Noonu Atoll, which belongs to Czech entrepreneurs Jiří Šmejc and Daniel Křetínský.

CV BOX

Jaromír Kalčic (born 21st March, 1972 in Příbram) is the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Maldives in Czechia.

He graduated from an electrical engineering vocational secondary school. For over 26 years he has been working as a director in his own company, which, in addition to supplying high-current and low-current systems, also participates in the development of decontamination technologies.

Much of his job, as well as most projects, are classified.

#He is married and has two children - a son Jaromír (23) and a daughter Karin (14).

The Maldives

The Republic of Maldives is an island nation spread over 20 atolls in the Indian Ocean. The first mention of the Maldives dates back to the 2nd century BC from Arab traders. In the 17th century they received protection from the Dutch, but in 1796 they became a British protectorate. In 1965, Britain recognized the archipelago as a sovereign and independent sultanate. In 1968, a republic was proclaimed. The coat of arms of the Republic of Maldives consists of a coconut tree, a Muslim crescent and two Maldivian flags, surrounded by a ribbon with the Arabic inscription "Ad-Dawlat Al-Mahaldheebiyya", which means "State of a Thousand Islands". This is a designation used by one of the most important Arab travellers and cartographers of the Middle Ages, Abu Abdallah ibn Battuta, and was followed by many others.

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