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Maldives' rule for tourists to present negative COVID-19 test comes into effect

Fathmath Shaahunaz
10 September 2020, MVT 12:48
Tourists who arrived in Maldives on July 15 after the country reopened borders following lockdown. FILE PHOTO: NISHAN ALI / MIHAARU
Fathmath Shaahunaz
10 September 2020, MVT 12:48

Maldives' new regulation mandating all visitors to present a negative COVID-19 test on arrival came into effect on Thursday.

The Ministry of Tourism confirmed to media that all tourists who arrived on Thursday morning presented negative PCR certificates to Velana International Airport (VIA) as per regulations.

The certificates, which must be conducted maximum 72 hours prior to departure to Maldives, are to be submitted via Immigration's portal 'Imuga'.

The tourism ministry added that it has stationed an official at VIA to ensure that all arrivals present the negative test.

The government announced the new regulation last week.

Tourism Minister Dr Abdulla Mausoom had stated that although Maldives reopened borders with a set of very lenient guidelines, the safety measures are being strengthened to ensure the safety of all, including the staff working in the hospitality industry.

“That will also guarantee safety and protection for tourists visiting Maldives, which will be important for increasing our numbers”, he had said.

Sanitiser is offered to tourists who arrived in Maldives on July 15 after the country reopened borders following lockdown. FILE PHOTO: NISHAN ALI / MIHAARU

“In essence, Maldives is the best country to vacation safely from among global destinations”, he added, referring to the archipelago's unique geography and one-island-one-resort concept.

As with numerous countries around the world, in the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Maldives closed its air and sea borders to tourist arrivals on March 27, halting the issuance of on-arrival visas until July 15.

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.

The tourism ministry further revealed this Thursday that only 11,629 visitors were recorded between July 15 and September 8.

However, Dr Mausoom stated that the government is expecting an additional 100,000 tourist arrivals before year end.

Amid the ministry's efforts to increase arrivals and promote tourism, guesthouses in all islands outside of the capital area will be reopened from October 15 onwards.

The restrictions on international travel left Maldives' heavily tourism reliant economy in an extremely vulnerable state. In mid-April, the World Bank projected that Maldives would be the worst-hit economy in the South Asian region due to the pandemic.

Overall, the Maldivian government estimates a shortfall of approximately USD 450 million (MVR 6.9 billion) in foreign currency and a state deficit of MVR 13 billion in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on the tourism industry.

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