Maldives second most-Googled destination for post-lockdown holidays
Maldives placed second, among those ranked 'Most Googled Destination' for post-lockdown holidays.
According to an analysis by Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA), Maldives came in second place with a global annual search volume of 1.79 million, following closely behind Italy.
Despite being one of the epicentres of the pandemic in Europe earlier this year, Italy came out on top as the most Googled destinations with almost 1.94 million global searches.
Following closely behind Maldives, Mexico ranked third with a search volume of 1.72 million.
Thailand and Spain made it to the top five, with Canada, Greece, Turkey, Japan and Australia filling up the remaining spots, respectively, for the top 10 most searched countries.
With more than 1.7 million tourists visiting Maldives in 2019, Minister of Tourism Dr Abdulla Mausoom recently described the pandemic as "more devastating than the 2004 tsunami and the 2008 global financial crisis" to the island nation's tourism industry.
Maldives reopened its borders to international passengers on July 15, after nearly four months since the state halted issuing on-arrival visas on March 27.
Although borders were reopened for tourists without the need for mandatory quarantine periods or COVID-19 tests for visitors on arrival, the influx of arrivals has yet to pick up the expected pace.
Due to the worsening COVID-19 situation in the country, which now records 8,834 cases, the government will mandate all tourists and short-term visitors to present a negative COVID-19 test on arrival from September 10 onwards.
Speaking on a local television programme, Minister Mausoom stated that although Maldives reopened borders with a set of very lenient guidelines, the safety measures will be strengthened to ensure the safety of all, including the staff working in the hospitality industry.
"That will also guarantee safety and protection for tourists visiting Maldives, which will be important for increasing our numbers", he had said.
Despite the lifting of restrictions, Maldives has noted a significant reduction in tourist arrivals compared to pre-COVID figures, with arrivals for July 2020 representing only 1.3 percent of those recorded in 2019.
Only about 7,000 tourists visited the country during the month of August. However, Dr Mausoom stated that the government is expecting an additional 100,000 tourist arrivals before year end.
"In essence, Maldives is the best country to vacation safely from among global destinations", he added, referring to the archipelago's unique geography and one-island-one-resort concept.