A spike in tourists testing positive for Covid-19 at resorts across the Maldives has spooked authorities into imposing a pre-arrival health clearance for all arriving travellers.
From September 10 onwards, tourists visiting the island nation will need to be tested for Covid-19 and receive a negative certification 72 hours ahead of their arrival.
According to health authorities, at least 16 foreigners and 29 local staff have tested positive at about a dozen resorts since July 15 when the airport was reopened for tourist traffic. All cases have been isolated in the resorts under national quarantine requirements.
Thoyyib Mohamed, managing director of the state-run Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC), told TTG Asia that other Covid-19 regulations for visitors will remain the same.
Meanwhile, tourists to the Maldives are now allowed to split their holidays between two resorts, which was not permitted earlier.
The Maldives’ low entry barriers for tourists have helped to restart activities in the country that is heavily dependent on tourism.
Since the reopening of the airport and until the end of August, the Maldives has received 9,329 tourists. UAE arrivals were the strongest for the month of August, with 1,627 tourists, due to the Haj holidays. The UK and the US followed with 715 and 674 visitors respectively.
The first three days of September saw 800 arrivals on Maldivian shores, which led Mohamed to expect an all-round improvement in arrivals this month.
To-date, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways and SriLankan Airlines have resumed regular flights to the Maldives. Mohamed revealed that Aeroflot planned to resume flights this month, which would facilitate Russian footfalls.
Optimism is also felt among travel agents despite the new pre-arrival health clearance.
“There is a lot of interest in the destination and tourism will bounce back fast once travel advisories are relaxed and insurance coverage is available,” commented an agent who declined to be named. The agent added that visitors were generally staying for seven to 14 days.
He expects European arrivals to rise once the outbreak in capital city and gateway Male improves and remaining European travel advisories against travel to the Maldives are removed.