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Maldives in discussion with UK to ease travel restrictions

Mariyam Malsa
30 August 2020, MVT 16:07
Tourists arriving in Maldives following the reopening of borders. PHOTO: LUCAS JALEEL/TWITTER
Mariyam Malsa
30 August 2020, MVT 16:07

The government commenced discussions with the United Kingdom, seeking to secure a placement for Maldives on UK's list of countries exempted from UK's Global Travel Advisory.

According to UK-based media outlet Express, the Managing Director of Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC), Mohamed Thoyyib, confirmed that discussions were underway with the involvement of the Ministry of Tourism and the Maldivian High Commission in UK.

"Along with the Maldives’ one-island-one-resort concept and abundant choice of private villa facilities, the geography of the country means the Maldives is the ideal destination for guests who are keen to avoid crowds during their holiday this year", assured the MMPRC Managing Director.

He added that all 166 resorts operating across the archipelago were required to implement protective measures to ensure the safety of tourists and staff in accordance with "comprehensive COVID-19 safe tourism guidelines and hygiene certification programme issued by tourism ministry".

If Maldives is added to UK’s travel exemption list, British citizens visiting the country will not be mandated to observe a 14-day quarantine period upon return.

The UK remains one of the top source markets for Maldives' tourism industry, accounting for the highest number of incoming tourists in the first month following the reopening of borders, with a total of 679 arrivals.

In addition to UK, the European Union (EU) also excluded Maldives from the list of countries permitted to travel to the EU, following their temporary lifting of restrictions on non-essential travel.

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.

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.

At present, tourists are permitted to enter the country without observing quarantine, provided that they remain at the establishment where initial bookings were made, precluding any movement between islands or liveaboards throughout the duration of their stay.

Minister of Tourism Dr Abdulla Mausoom recently disclosed plans to mandate tourists to present a negative COVID-19 test result to enter the country.

Maldives currently records a total of 7,578 confirmed and 2,619 active COVID-19 cases, along with 4,925 recoveries and 28 deaths.

After recording significantly low numbers in the months of May and June, COVID-19 cases in Maldives skyrocketed again after the state commenced the phased easing of lockdown restrictions across the Greater Male' Region. As per authorities, the spike indicates a high level of community spread in the country.

As the capital city of Male', one of the most densely populated cities in the world, continues to record a significant number of virus cases per day, the government has redoubled protective measures, implementing a curfew from 2200 to 0500 hrs and mandating facemasks.

On March 12, WHO classified the spread of COVID-19 as a global pandemic. To date, the new strain of novel coronavirus has infected over 25.1 million people and claimed over 846,900 lives around the world. However, out of those infected, more than 17.5 million people have recovered.

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