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5,177 tourists arrive in Maldives after borders reopen

Mariyam Malsa
17 August 2020, MVT 16:13
Tourists arriving in Maldives following the reopening of the border. PHOTO: NISHAN ALI/ MIHAARU
Mariyam Malsa
17 August 2020, MVT 16:13

Maldives Immigration, on Sunday, revealed that a total of 5,177 tourists arrived in Maldives between July 15 and August 15, the first month following the state's decision to reopen borders.

According to Immigration's statistics, the highest number of incoming tourists were recorded from the United Kingdom (UK) with 679 arrivals, followed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the United States which account for 647 and 525 tourists respectively.

Within a record of 358 arrivals, the most number of tourists arrived in Maldives on August 8.

All aforementioned figures represent a significant reduction from tourist arrivals recorded during the previous year. As per 2019 statistics from the Ministry of Tourism, 132,144 holidaymakers travelled to Maldives in July and 132,144 arrived in August.

To illustrate the magnitude of the difference between pre-covid statistics and current figures, tourist arrivals for June 2020 represent 1.3 percent of the arrivals in 2019.

Following the reopening of borders, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) permitted tourists to enter the country without mandatory quarantine, provided that they remained at the facility where initial bookings were made. Therefore, tourists are not permitted to move between islands or liveaboards within the duration of their stay.

Holidaymakers arriving in Maldives are required to observe social distancing measures and wear facemasks in accordance with HPA regulations. While all passengers will undergo thermal screening, individuals with high temperatures, breathing difficulties or other symptoms will be referred to the airport clinic.

The Ministry of Tourism has expressed a target of attracting 900,000 tourists to Maldives during the remainder of 2020. The aim is in stark contrast with the two million-goal set earlier this year before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic.

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.

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.

Maldives 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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