Maldivian authorities have bowed to requests from the tourism and travel industry to refrain from imposing new fees on tourist arrivals when the country reopens its borders sometime in July.
Draft guidelines issued earlier for the country’s reopening to tourism included the imposition of an entry visa fee of US$100 per arrival, and a mandatory Covid-19 swab test at the airport which will set each arriving passenger back US$100. Pre-pandemic, a 30-day free visa was issued on arrival in the Maldives for all nationalities.
In a statement on Saturday, the Ministry of Tourism said it will be reopening its borders to visitors in July – four months after the Maldives suspended issuance of on-arrival visas on March 27 to curb Covid-19 – and assured that guests will not be imposed any additional fees to enter the country.
Thoyyib Mohamed, managing director of the state-run Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation, said the guidelines were sent to various tourism trade associations for their feedback, and that they decided to can the proposed fees imposed on tourist arrivals at the trade’s behest.
He said they are awaiting the government’s final approval of the guidelines. According to the draft guidelines released by the Ministry of Tourism, among the changes are a compulsory safe tourism licence of US$50,000 for every approved resort to operate.
As well, on-arrival visas will be granted to tourists committed to a minimum stay of 14 nights in the Maldives, but the entirety of the stay must be booked in one tourist facility.
In addition to taking a PCR test on arrival, also compulsory is the requirement of a negative PCR report dated a maximum of seven days prior to landing in the Maldives and/or a positive anti-body test report taken a maximum of two weeks prior to landing in the Maldives to be produced at the designated airport on arrival.
Check-in procedures at resorts will also change. Upon arrival, tourists shall be escorted directly to their rooms, where they will be given a detailed web-based check-in option to be completed in-room. Additionally, a safe distance of 1m shall be maintained between tourists and staff at all times.
The guidelines stipulate that tourists are to remain in their rooms until the receipt of their on-arrival PCR test results, which will be within 48 hours of sampling, with meals served directly to the room during this period.
Tourists are able to use the common facilities of the resort once they have confirmed to be negative. Buffets are banned at resorts, while a 2m spacing between tables are to be observed strictly.
As at Sunday, there were 1,672 Covid-19 cases in the Maldives, with five deaths.
Update, June 2, 14.15: Tourism Ministry officials have clarified that these are still draft guidelines and subject to change based on proposals and recommendations from the industry.