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Maldives to reopen borders, restart tourism in July

Fathmath Shaahunaz
31 May 2020, MVT 12:42
Aerial close-up of LUX* South Ari Atoll resort in Maldives. PHOTO: LUX* SOUTH ARI ATOLL
Fathmath Shaahunaz
31 May 2020, MVT 12:42

The government of Maldives officially announced plans Saturday to restart tourism this coming July.

In a statement, Ministry of Tourism declared that the country will be reopening its borders for visitors in July 2020, four months after Maldives temporarily stopped issuing on-arrival visas on March 27 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We also want to assure our guests that they will not be charged any additional fees to enter the Maldives", added the ministry.

Although authorities are yet to disclose further details on plans to restart tourism, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih declared earlier this month that the main gateway of Maldives, Velana International Airport, was set to welcome international flights within July if the COVID-19 situation in the country continued to improve.

He stated that permits to reopen resorts would be granted once commercial flights returned to Maldivian runways, and that experts were formulating specialised procedural guidelines for recommencing operations.

The tourism ministry earlier revealed a set of guidelines concerning tourist arrivals, to be applied once borders reopened. 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 1,000 and a further fee of USD 100 to test each arrival for the COVID-19 virus.

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

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.

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