Maldives Immigration, in commemoration of 'World Tourism Day' on September 27, launched the world's first tier-based travel loyalty programme titled 'Maldives Border Miles'.
Maldives Border Miles features three tiers: 'Aida' (bronze), 'Antara' (silver) and 'Abaarana' (gold), each with a distinctive variety of rewards and benefits.
Tourists will earn points based on the number of visits and duration of stay, with additional points awarded for visits during special occasions, and will be in effect starting December. Each of the three tiers will be defined by a set variety of rewards, services or benefits, which will increase in value according to progress.
Initiated by Maldives Immigration, Maldives Border Miles is a tourism promotion programme developed with the Ministry of Tourism, Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) and Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL).
The initiative was inaugurated by Minister of Tourism Dr Abdulla Mausoom during a virtual ceremony attended by industry stakeholders including MMPRC Managing Director Thoyyib Mohamed, MACL Managing Director Gordon Andrew Stewart, and Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI)'s Deputy Secretary General Asad Ali.
Tourism Minister Mausoom stated, "The Maldives Border Miles launched today is a programme which will increase the popularity of Maldives as a tourist destination and provide a path for more marketing and advertising opportunities. In addition, I think that this will further enhance the popularity gained in the key markets of Maldives tourism".
“The hotel reception is not where the tourists begin their holiday. Their awaited journey begins from the welcoming smile of the Immigration officer at the border, which indeed narrates the initial chapter of a memorable vacation", added Controller General of Immigration Mohamed Ahmed Hussain.
"With the introduction of Maldives Border Miles, we are prepared to welcome them with privileges and facilitate an experience like never before".
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.
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.
Despite the opening of its borders on July, Maldives has noted a significant reduction in tourist arrivals compared to pre-COVID figures, with only a total of 13,516 tourists arriving in Maldives between July 15 and September 15, as per Maldives Immigration.
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.