COVID-19: Tourism guidelines will be implemented after discussion with stakeholders

COVID-19: Tourism guidelines will be implemented after discussion with stakeholders

The Tourism Ministry has revealed that the government's final policy on re-opening the tourism industry will be published after discussion with industry stakeholders.

The tourism dependent country closed its borders and suspended issuing on arrival visas in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic during March. As a result, the country's economy has been hit hard, and a large number of people have lost their jobs or been placed on no-pay leaves. The inflow of foreign currency has been severely restricted.

The Tourism Ministry has developed a guideline titled 'Maldives Safe Tourism Guideline' seeking public and professional opinion on the planned strategies to re-open the tourism sector. The draft is open for comments until May 25.

According to the draft, a fee of US$ 50,000 will be charged for all charter flights and private jets arriving in the Maldives when the popular travel destination opens its doors once again. US$ 100 will be charged as fees for every 'Special Tourist Visa', and the minimum duration for the visa will be 14 days.

The draft also states that every tourist must be tested for COVID-19 before traveling to Maldives, and special precautions must be taken at their destination resorts. Service staff must wear masks and gloves at all times, and social distancing must be strictly practiced. The guidelines also state that contact tracing means must also be arranged during travel.

Additionally, all staff at tourist facilities must be trained on how to use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and a certain number of tourist rooms must be kept vacant, the paper proposed.

The guideline further proposes to open the country for private jets and super yachts from June 1. According to the draft, charter flights and scheduled flights will resume on July 1, and ourists can travel to local guest houses from August 1.

While most resorts are not in operation at this time, the few that are in service are being used as quarantine facilities. The Finance Ministry has estimated that the state revenue would fall to MVR 15 billion as a result of the decline in tourist arrivals.