Villa Hotels closes three resorts as Maldives suffers coronavirus economic blow

Vill Hotels & Resorts has temporarily closed three of its four resorts, as the Maldives reels from the economic impact of a series of drastic preventive measures aimed at containing the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Officials from Villa Hotels told local media on Monday that Royal Island Resort and Spa, Holiday Island Resort and Spa, and Sun Island Resort and Spa will be temporarily closed due to the low demand and travel restrictions on visitors from major source markets.

Only Paradise Island Resort and Spa will remain open, the officials said.

It is unclear how long the shut down will last.

As one of the leading hospitality companies in the Maldives, Villa Hotels owns and operates five resorts: Paradise Island Resort and Spa, Royal Island Resort and Spa, Holiday Island Resort and Spa, Sun Island Resort and Spa, and Fun Island Resort and Spa, which is currently closed for renovation.

The resort operator also has several subsidiaries, including award-winning wellness brand Araamu Spa and dive centre DiveOceanus.

On March 8, Maldives reported its first cases of the novel coronavirus, as two hotel employees tested positive for Covid-19 at a luxury resort in the archipelago.

Eleven more cases — all foreigners working or staying resorts and liveaboard vessels — have since been identified. All the patients are under isolation, being treated at designated quarantine facilities.

Maldives announced a state of public health emergency on Thursday, the first such declaration under a recent public health protection law.

The public health emergency declaration has allowed the government to introduce a series of unprecedented restrictive and social distancing measures, including a 14-day ban on inter-island travel of tourists, including for excursions and between resort islands.

Guesthouses and hotels in capital Male and its suburbs of Hulhumale and Villimale have also been shut down for two weeks.

The Maldives had closed its borders to arrivals from the worst-hit countries, including mainland China, Italy, Bangladesh, Iran and Spain. Visitors from three regions of Germany (Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia and Baden-Württemberg), two regions of France (Île-de-France and Grand Est) and two regions of South Korea are also banned from entering the country.

Cruise ships had also been banned from docking at any of the country’s ports.

All direct flights to and from China, Italy, South Korea and Iran had also been cancelled.

The island nation had installed thermal screening cameras at its international airports.

Quarantine facilities, including designated islets from the 1,192 islands that make up the archipelago, had also been established.

The global coronavirus outbreak is expected to hit the Maldivian economy hard, as tourism contributes the bulk of the island nation’s state revenue and foreign reserves.

The government has already announced several cost cutting measures, including a freeze on the hiring of new staff and suspension of non-essential travel by state officials.

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