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182 guesthouses reopen across Maldives: Ministry

Mariyam Malsa
20 December 2020, MVT 18:53
A guesthouse in Kaafu Atoll's Dhiffushi. PHOTO: BOOKING.COM
Mariyam Malsa
20 December 2020, MVT 18:53

The Ministry of Tourism revealed that a total of 182 guesthouses across 10 atolls in Maldives reopened following a long period of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to statistics published by the ministry, a sizeable portion of the guesthouses which recommenced operations are located in the Greater Male' Region, with a tally of 81.

While a total of 48 guesthouses in Alif Alif Atoll reopened, 18 of the remaining establishments are in Alif Dhaalu Atoll and 17 are in Vaavu Atoll.

Guesthouses in Haa Alif, Noonu, Baa and Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll have also started accepting reservations.

Authorities have repeatedly asserted that guesthouse operations must be conducted in accordance with a set of strict regulations.

While all tourists staying at guesthouses in the Male' region for more than 48 hours must present a negative PCR test conducted within 72 hours prior to departure, guesthouse employees must undergo testing on a monthly basis.

Overall, guesthouse establishments are required to seek authorisation from respective local councils prior to submitting an application to the tourism ministry with a detailed Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on how safety measures will be implemented.

As per the guidelines, each guesthouse must have a separate isolation area based on bed capacity, for positive cases and close contacts, while flu clinics and designated vehicles for transportation must be present on every island where local tourism resumes.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has also announced that wearing masks in public will be mandatory for both locals and tourists in islands where guesthouses resume operations.

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.

On December 12, Maldives recorded the arrival of the 100,000th tourist following the removal of travel restrictions. Five days after the milestone was reached, the government welcomed 500,000th tourist for the year 2020.

Although Maldives has noted a significant reduction in tourist arrivals compared to pre-COVID figures, there has been a gradual increase with the establishment of travel bubbles between Maldives and other countries, as well as greater connectivity in terms of flight operations.

It is anticipated that Maldives will reach peak arrival rates during the year of 2021.

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