Though border restrictions and quarantine measures are keeping people from visiting many of the world’s most popular travel destinations at the moment, one country famed for its natural beauty is now welcoming all guests — the Maldives.
As of July 15, this island nation in the Indian Ocean is reopened to international tourism and, perhaps remarkably, very few strings are attached.
Global travelers — US citizens included — will not have to enter into a mandatory quarantine upon arrival at Velana International Airport in the capital, Male. Nor will they need to produce proof they have tested negative for coronavirus.
There are also no new visa requirements or additional fees to pay.
One island, one resort
In the beginning, international visitors will only be allowed on the resort islands and they need to book their entire stay in one registered establishment.
Exemptions will only be made for transit arrangements, according to the Maldives government’s guidelines.
In terms of Covid-19 prevention, tourism officials are banking on the fact each resort essentially offers its own form of quarantine already — albeit a pretty enjoyable one.
The Maldives is made up of 26 atolls filled with over 1,000 islands occupied by dozens of resorts, all spread out over 90,000 square kilometers.
Most of the islands in the Maldives developed for tourism feature just a single resort. Should guests or staff come into contact with someone who tests positive for Covid-19, in theory they will be easily traceable, while the potential for spread is kept to a minimum.
But as enticing as it sounds to hop on a plane for the Maldives right now, travelers may have to contend with their own country’s quarantine measures upon their return — and that might deter them from visiting.
“What is important to take into consideration is that it depends not only on the Maldives, but also on the lifting of travel restrictions in different countries. It is not just desire but ability,” says Sonu Shivdasani, CEO and founder of Soneva, which has two Maldives resorts — Soneva Fushi and Soneva Jani.
That said, guests are already demonstrating a willingness to return, he tells CNN Travel.
“We have more on the books at Soneva Fushi for August than we had at the same time last year. As the borders open, and our main markets are allowed to travel to us, it could be our best August ever.”
Are all resorts reopening on July 15?
Of the 156 resorts on Maldives Tourism’s list of reopening dates, 43 will be open July 15. (Several on that list remained open throughout the pandemic, serving guests who choose to stay there, or those who came in later via private plane or yacht.)
Dozens more will reopen in August, with 50 or so more planning to follow suit in September and October.
French hospitality group Accor has five Maldives resorts and will be staggering openings in the coming months.
In terms of health and safety, the government is issuing “Safe Tourism Licenses” to accredit tourist facilities that abide by legislation and specific safety requirements like having a certified medic on call and holding an “adequate stock” of personal protection equipment.
Resorts are implementing additional measures to protect guests and staff.
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