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UK travel firm confirms post-COVID tourism demand for Maldives

Ahmed Aiham
11 June 2020, MVT 14:48
A sunset photographed from the first integrated leisure and entertainment resort 'Crossraods'. PHOTO: HUSSAIN WAHEED / MIHAARU
Ahmed Aiham
11 June 2020, MVT 14:48

United Kingdom (UK)-based travel firm 'Kuoni' reported a significant uptick in the demand for 2021 travel bookings to Maldives, reflecting a view of the world post the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Kuoni's Managing Director, 56 percent of the company's overall holiday bookings are to the island destination, and are all reservations made for 2021.

Derek said, “bookings for the Maldives are outperforming every other destination we sell around the world", adding that, “Maldives has always been our best-seller but it’s soaring even further ahead".

On May 31, the Ministry of Tourism released a statement declaring that the country would reopening its borders for visitors in July 2020, four months after Maldives' virus-prompted travel ban.

Minister of Tourism Ali Waheed previously stated that Maldives cannot keep its borders closed for long, confirming that government was already engaging with the relevant industry stakeholders to compile a 'Guideline for Restarting Maldives Tourism'.

A video intended for promoting the country's re-opening of borders, featuring the minister on a sandbank, that was created by the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC). PHOTO: MMPRC

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

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

Set conditions for the permit to bring tourists into 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.

At the time Minister of Tourism Ali Waheed stated that if all should proceed according 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.

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