Visiting the Maldives May Become More Complicated

When the island nation reopens its borders in July, visitors will likely need to prove that they have tested negative for Covid-19 seven days before the trip, undergo another test on arrival, and await the results in their hotel rooms.

Photo: David Mark/Pixabay

Spread across 26 atolls in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives welcomed a record 1.7 million overseas arrivals last year, but the months-long shutdown of its booming tourism industry due to the Covid-19 pandemic means the figure for 2020 may only reach half that number. Recent weeks have seen the government put forward a roadmap for economic recovery, with the country’s international airports set to reopen to commercial flights from July 1. Those arriving on superyachts and private jets will get to visit one month earlier (starting on June 1). Initially, authorities had considered charging an entry fee of US$10,000 for every superyacht and a landing fee of US$50,000 for each private jet, but these have since been waived in subsequent revisions of the plan.

As a vaccine is not yet available, a strict new health and safety policy (called Safe Tourism Guidelines) is now being drafted by the tourism ministry. The sweeping recommendations look set to shake things up should they be approved in their current form. To enter the Maldives, all travelers could soon be required to show the results of a negative PCR or positive antibody test, conducted a week prior to the trip.

Aside from going through temperature checks and a disinfection process, visitors will be expected to go through another PCR test upon arrival. A tourist visa will be granted to those who hold a confirmed booking at a licensed property and have travel insurance with medical coverage for the duration of their stay.

Under the Safe Tourism Guidelines, alternate seats are to be left vacant aboard seagoing vessels and planes flying domestic routes, with passengers kept at least one meter apart wherever possible. Face masks will be compulsory throughout the journey, and once guests arrive at their accommodation, they must stay in their rooms or villas while awaiting the results of the on-arrival PCR test.

Resorts will need to allocate 10 percent of guest rooms for isolation purposes while providing enough facilities to quarantine up to 10 percent of staff numbers. A stockpile of medical-grade personal protective equipment is required to be kept on the premises, and all staff should be trained in isolation procedures to deal with the possible emergence of suspected Covid-19 infections. A certified doctor and nurse must also be on hand at all times. Resorts will have to fulfill all the aforementioned criteria to obtain a Safe Tourism License from the tourism ministry.

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