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Maldives receives Safe Travels Stamp from World Travel and Tourism Council

Shahudha Mohamed
15 September 2020, MVT 18:48
Tourists arriving in Maldives following the reopening of borders. PHOTO: LUCAS JALEEL/TWITTER
Shahudha Mohamed
15 September 2020, MVT 18:48

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), on Tuesday, awarded Maldives with the Safe Travels Stamp.

The stamp was granted in recognition of the island nation's efforts to implement enhanced health and safety measures, in line with the WTTC global Safe Travels protocols.

The Safe Travels Stamp aims to provide confidence to travellers and re-establish consumer confidence in travel and tourism, as well as ensure travellers that enhanced standards of hygiene are in place.

The first-ever global safety and hygiene stamp for travel and tourism, designed to address COVID-19 and similar outbreaks, is endorsed by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and over 200 travel companies.

Although Maldives reopened borders with a set of very lenient guidelines, the state is now strengthening safety measures to ensure the safety of all, including the staff working in the hospitality industry.

A new regulation, which came into effect on September 10, now mandates all visitors to present a negative COVID-19 test on arrival to Maldives.

"That will also guarantee safety and protection for tourists visiting Maldives, which will be important for increasing our numbers", Minister of Tourism Dr Abdulla Mausoom had said.

"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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