The Maldives is a picture-perfect archipelago, situated in the middle of the Indian Ocean, and home to tiny coral islands which provide for natural isolation. The island nation is famous for its beauty and is celebrated as one of the most popular travel destinations in the world.
Due to the global pandemic, tourism had to come to a standstill and the country had to close its borders as part of the stringent public health measures taken to curb the outbreak.
After almost four months of closure, on 15 July, the Maldives reopened its borders to tourists of all nationalities and welcomed them back to the sunny side of life. As the world recovers from the current situation, the government made the decision, fully confident in its safety measures to ensure the protection of tourists and people working in all tourist establishments. The resumption of the tourism industry was only given the go-ahead after important consultations with health professionals and relevant stakeholders.
During the first phase, only resorts and liveaboards in uninhabited islands resumed operations. The signature “one-island-one-resort” concept also ensures that visitors to the country are based in their respective resorts – travellers can also stay in their own overwater private villa, away from everyone else. Together, these unique arrangements make it easier for visitors to maintain social distancing, while enjoying a truly safe and secluded holiday, making the Maldives one of the safest destinations to travel to right now.
On 15 October, guesthouses in inhabited islands resumed operations as well. Wearing masks is always mandatory for tourists and locals in these islands. The development of local tourism is further aided by the introduction of “Split-Stay.” At first, this was only permitted between resorts but as of 23 October, the local Health Protection Agency (HPA) has permitted split stay between all tourist establishments, with prior approval as per the guidelines by the Ministry of Tourism (MoT).
Regulations ensure all tourist establishments are in line with the COVID-19 tourism guidelines. The Ministry of Tourism has issued COVID-19 safe tourism guidelines along with a certification program to uphold proper safety and hygiene standards.
The government, together with relevant stakeholders, is ensuring that the Maldives remain a safe haven for tourists to travel to and has enforced several measures to warrant this.
First, all tourists are required to fill an online Traveler Health Declaration form within 24 hours prior to their departure to the Maldives. At first, a negative COVID-19 test result was not required but in September, the government made it mandatory for all tourists to present a negative COVID-19 test certificate within 72 hours prior to departure to the Maldives.
On 14 October, the government extended the validity time to within 96 hours prior to departure to the Maldives, easing access for tourists embarking on long-distance and time-consuming flights. Additionally, all tourists are required to wear masks and will undergo thermal screening on arrival.
The Maldives has been gaining recognition in the efforts to make it a safe destination for travellers. The country received the ‘Safe Travels Stamp’ by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) in recognition of the efforts to implement enhanced health and safety measures in line with the WTTC global Safe Travels protocols.
Additionally, Velana International Airport has received the ACI Airport Health Accreditation for consistent safety measures. Velana International Airport is the second airport in the Asia Pacific Region to receive the Health Accreditation.
The Ministry of Tourism, in collaboration with Allied Insurance, has also introduced the first COVID-19 Travel Insurance in the Maldives. This policy covers charges for services including isolation costs, medical treatment and transportation costs to isolation/medical facilities and consists of two plans; “Allied Inbound” and “Allied Inbound Plus.” The package covers sevem or more days and can be purchased before arriving in the Maldives through the Allied Insurance website.
The tourism sector is continuing to build momentum towards a full recovery. This is evident with increased flight movements and tourist arrivals, as they gradually increase.
This article was produced in partnership with Visit Maldives – visitmaldives.com/en