Maldives reopens to all nationalities

Maldives reopens to all nationalities

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The country welcomes first visitors from 15 July

The Maldives is an iconic destination for many holidaymakers. Not so much for the last almost four months, as this small island nation in the Indian Ocean suspended all on-arrival tourist visas. As of 15 July, the tourism industry has reopened the borders to welcome back visitors of all nationalities.

The country received its first visitors in the morning of the reopening, as stated in a joint press statement by the Ministry of Tourism, Maldives Marketing & PR Corporation, and Maldives Airports Company Ltd. The visitors arrived onboard Qatar Airways which became the first commercial aircraft to arrive at Velana International Airport (VIA) since 27 March 2020. The airplane carried 107 foreigners from various countries and 24 Maldivians.

Are there special requirements before or on arrival? 

The borders are now open to all nationalities from around the world, including the US. The tourism sector has introduced health precautions, such as “social distancing, minimal touchpoints, frequent sanitization, and mask-wearing” to ensure everyone’s safety at the airport

There are no further requirements when visiting — global travelers are not obliged to go into self-isolation nor is it necessary to present a negative test for coronavirus. Getting a visa does not incur any extra fees or requirements and travelers can obtain a free 30-day visa upon arrival.

The Ministry of Tourism has previously published a Guideline for Restarting Tourism in Maldives with travel information for visitors during the reopening phase.

“The health and safety of tourists and residents in the Maldives have always been paramount and the resumption of the tourism industry was only given the go-ahead following extensive consultations with health professionals and all stakeholders,” according to the press release.

Are hotels and resorts open?

From 15 July, hotels, resorts, and liveaboards on uninhabited islands are allowed to start running servicesFrom 15 July, hotels, resorts, and liveaboards on uninhabited islands are allowed to start running services — Shutterstock

With the border closures, the tourism sector has been hit the worst of all major economic sectors. In the Maldives, “tourism accounts for the majority of foreign exchange earnings”, as stated in the press release. It is therefore crucial for the country to reopen and make the most of the ongoing summer holiday season in the Northern Hemisphere. 

From 15 July, hotels, resorts, and liveaboards on uninhabited islands are allowed to start running services. Hotels and guest houses located on inhabited islands will be allowed to resume operations from 1 August.

As of today, a total of 40 resorts have reopened. Others will restart their operations in August, September and October this year.

“We intend to reopen Mercure Maldives Kooddoo Resort from 1 August, followed by Pullman Maldives Maamutaa Resort in September. Our remaining properties in the Maldives will reopen from October 2020 — Mövenpick Resort Kuredhivaru Maldives, Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi, and Raffles Maldives Meradhoo,” said John Bendtsen, Accor Area General Manager for the Maldives, to CNN.

Accor is a French hospitality group and has five resorts on the islands. “We are seeing a real appetite for travel more towards the end of the year with the Christmas and New Year period particularly positive as well as the first quarter of 2021,” added Bendtsen.

“Travelers who have already visited the Maldives previously are much more confident and we are seeing a lot of returning guests make bookings for the 4th quarter of 2020.”

Why is the Maldives a popular holiday destination?

The lockdown months were the first time since the beginning of Maldives tourism 47 years ago that the islands saw zero tourists visit the country. The country is largely dependent on external factors influencing the influx of tourists.

In 2019, the Maldives saw 1.7 million tourist arrivals — the highest number in one year — an increase of 14.7% year on year. For 2020, the target has been set to 850,000 visitors.

The remote islands of the Maldives are surrounded by the blue waters of the Indian Ocean and rimmed with white beaches and lagoons. It’s become a favorite for diving thanks to its underwater life and clear water while others find satisfaction in the luxury of the islands.

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