British Airways restarted flights between Maldives and the United Kingdom (UK) on October 17.
Welcoming the new operations, Minister of Tourism Dr Abdulla Mauoom expressed hopes that the link between Velana International Airport (VIA) and Heathrow Airport in London would boost tourist arrivals from the UK to Maldives.
The minister thanked British High Commissioner to Maldives Caron Rohsler as well as other key individuals that facilitated the re-establishment of travel between the two countries.
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. Guesthouses were permitted to resume operations and kick start local tourism on October 15.
Despite the lifting of restrictions, Maldives has noted a significant reduction in tourist arrivals compared to pre-COVID figures, with only 22,007 tourists arriving between July 15 and October 5.
All tourists entering Maldives are required to present a negative COVID-19 test conducted within 96 hours prior to arrival and are subjected to thermal screenings at the airport.
The restrictions on international travel left Maldives' heavily tourism reliant economy in an extremely vulnerable state, with the World Bank projecting in mid-April, that Maldives would be the worst-hit economy in the South Asian region due to the pandemic.
However, the Minister of Tourism earlier expressed hopes for the industry's recovery, estimating that 100,000 tourists would visit Maldives before the end of 2020.