Velana Airport gears up to open doors in July

Velana Airport gears up to open doors in July

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, on Wednesday, stated that Velana International Airport was set to resume welcoming international flights within July if COVID19’ situation in Maldives continues to improve.

In his third address to the public following the World Health Organization (WHO)'s declaration of a global pandemic, the president revealed that permits to re-open resorts would also be granted, once commercial flights returned to Maldivian runways.

He added that experts were formulating specialised procedural guidelines for recommencing operations

However, the Ministry of Tourism has revealed a set of guidelines concerning tourist arrivals, to be applied once borders re-opened.

Set conditions for the permit to bring tourists in to the country include a fee of USD 50,000 for jets and charter flights, purchase of a tourist visa costing USD 1000 and a further fee of USD 100 to test each arrival for the COVID-19 virus.

The guideline includes specific instructions for a new standard of operations that will be applicable to resorts, guesthouses as well as safari boats and liveaboards, respectively.

According to Minister of Tourism Ali Waheed, if all proceeds to plan, Maldives would see its first inbound tourists, since the travel ban was implemented on March 27, between the coming July and October.

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 ground 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.