Maldives to welcome tourists in July with safety restrictions
Ministry of Tourism announced on Tuesday that Maldives will resume tourism with the opening of borders on July 15.
According to a guideline published by the ministry, tourists must adhere to certain precautionary measures during their stay in the island nation.
Prior confirmed booking in a registered tourist facility is compulsory for every visitor, and the entirety of the stay must be booked in one facility. However, exemptions will be made for those requiring transit arrangements.
The guideline states that a 30-day tourist visa will be granted for visitors upon arrival in Maldives, given that the tourist has a confirmed pre-booking and provides emergency contact information during the visa insurance process.
Visa extensions will be granted without additional fees for long-stay tourists that may require an extension due to quarantine measures.
At the point of entry, authorities will conduct temperature checks and screening measures. Visitors exhibiting COVID-19-like symptoms must undergo a PCR test, which will be paid for by the tourist facility where the tourist's booking was made.
Moreover, Health Protection Agency (HPA) will carry out random sampling at the airports.
If a visitor tests positive, they will either be isolated in their designated room or in a government-run facility, depending on the individual's health condition.'
A tourist that is identified to have COVID-19 will not be allowed on vessels, guest houses and hotels on inhabited islands.
Tourists in isolation will only be allowed to check-out as per HPA's national guidelines.
In addition to this, tourists are encouraged to wear masks, maintain social distancing of at least one meter with airport staff, frequently hand wash or sanitise, and install HPA's contact tracing application 'Trace Ekee' upon or before arrival.
As of now, the tentative opening date for resorts, marinas, tourist vessels and tourist hotels on uninhabited islands is July 15. The ministry is hoping to begin operations of tourist guest houses and tourist hotels on inhabited islands starting from August 1.
The travel restrictions, implemented as part of Maldives' response to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, have left the country vulnerable to severe economic impacts.
Mid-April, World Bank projected that Maldives would be the worst-hit economy in the South Asian region due to the pandemic.
Heavily reliant on tourism for revenue, with the industry momentarily grounded to a halt, Maldives estimates a shortfall of approximately USD 450 million (MVR 6.9 billion) in foreign currency, while projected state deficit would reach MVR 13 billion this year.