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State allocates 10,000 vaccine doses for resort staff

Shahudha Mohamed
02 February 2021, MVT 18:46
Resort staff, exposed to tourists from foreign countries, will receive vaccine doses with the people included in the high-risk category, says Minister of Tourism Dr Abdulla Mausoom. PHOTO: MIHAARU
Shahudha Mohamed
02 February 2021, MVT 18:46

Minister of Tourism Abdulla Mausoom, on Tuesday, announced that 10,000 COVISHIELD doses have been allocated to vaccinate staff members working in resorts across Maldives.

According to the minister, resort staff that come into direct contact with tourists will be amongst the first group of people to get inoculated in the heavily tourism-dependent country.

Since the COVID-19 vaccine must be administered in two doses, the amount currently allocated by the government will be enough to immunise approximately 5,000 workers. As per the minister, Maldives would acquire more vaccine doses by the time the first round of resort workers are inoculated.

He added that the ministry is currently collecting information about the resort workers that come into direct contact with tourists, and confirmed that they will be vaccinated along with persons belonging to the high-risk category.

"We are trying to ensure that Maldives is a safe destination for tourists and workers of the [tourism] industry", Mausoom said.

Minister Mausoom made this announcement at a time industry workers were raising questions over the lack of concern displayed for resort staff, and excluding them in the category of frontline workers.

The number of resort staff testing positive for the virus has been on the rise since the country reopened its borders in an attempt to restart its tourism industry.

Like many other countries around the world, with the local emergence of COVID-19 infections, Maldives closed its borders in March 2020. However, after reopening gates and easing restrictions in the following July, the island nation managed to attract 172,366 tourists during the remaining months of 2020.

According to the tourism ministry, the goal for 2021 remains to draw at least 1.5 million tourists to Maldives, for which the country must either maintain an average of 4,000 arrivals daily throughout the year or experience a significant influx during (foreign) holiday periods.

During festive dates, such as Christmas and New Year, it is typical for the island nation to witness a marked increase in tourist numbers. For instance, close to Xmas last year, Maldives recorded, on certain days, nearly double the usual amount of arrivals.

At present, 144 resorts and 324 guesthouses are known to be fully operational in Maldives.

For Maldives, the new year opened on a positive note, with over 20,000 tourists arriving within the first week. With vaccinations commencing worldwide, numbers are expected to increase, say experts.