Singaporeans want to visit Maldives for year-end, new year holidays

Aspiring Singaporean travellers are showing renewed optimism for travel, with the Maldives amongst their favourite destinations for regional trips, according to recent search data on Expedia.

According to accommodation searches conducted on in the April, staycations are Singaporeans’ preferred choice for a getaway from June through to December.

As the resumption of international travel may still be some time away, Singaporeans are looking to go on staycations in lieu of overseas travel starting from the month of June, when the lockdown measures begin to ease.

Data on standalone hotel searches in April for stays from June to July revealed that four in 10 accommodation searches were for staycations.

But in view of the gradual reopening of international borders in time to come, Singaporeans have also shown renewed interest in overseas travel.

Hinting at a positive uptick in consumer travel sentiments, Expedia data showed that Singaporeans have been searching for overseas travel options, with a particular interest in Asian destinations such as Tokyo, Taipei, Bangkok and the Maldives for their year-end travels.

Top travel destinations for the period from October to December are: Tokyo, Taipei, Bangkok, Seoul, the Maldives, Bali, Phuket, Osaka, Hokkaido, and Hong Kong.

Come 2021, Singaporeans seem to display renewed optimism for travel to resume normalcy in the new year. Data showed that searches for travel to any one destination surpassed searches for local staycations for check-in dates of between January to February 2021.

Top travel destinations for check-in dates between January to February 2021 are: Tokyo, the Maldives, Bangkok, Niseko, Seoul, Bali, Taipei, Johor, Sapporo, and Okinawa.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, Singapore Airlines and SilkAir were operating a total of 16 weekly services between Singapore and Male.

But all international airlines have suspended scheduled operations to the Maldives, as the island nation enforced a blanket suspension of on-arrival visa in late March in a bid to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has announced plans to reopen the country’s borders and restart its worst-hit tourism industry in July.

The country’s tourism ministry has drafted and invited comments from industry stakeholders on its own guidelines on reopening the borders.

The coronavirus outbreak has hit the Maldivian economy hard, as travel restrictions and other preventive measures affect the country’s lucrative tourism industry, which contributes the bulk of the island nation’s state revenue and foreign reserves.

Before the pandemic, the government had been bullish about tourism prospects, targeting two million, high-spending holidaymakers this year after last year’s record 1.7 million.

However, tourist arrivals saw a year-over-year decline of 22.8 per cent in the first 10 days of March. Officials say the number of tourist arrivals to the Maldives could drop by half in 2020.

With arrival numbers falling and the visa suspension in effect, several resorts across the Maldives had been closed.

Tourism has been the bedrock of the Maldives’ economic success. The $5 billion-dollar economy grew by 6.7 per cent in 2018 with tourism generating 60 per cent of foreign income.

However, the government is at present projecting a possible 13 per cent economic contraction this year — an estimated $778 million hit.

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.

Eighteen more cases — all foreigners working or staying resorts and liveaboard vessels except five Maldivians who had returned from abroad — were later identified.

A six-case cluster of locals, detected in capital Male on April 15, confirmed community transmission of the coronavirus. Several more clusters have since been identified, bringing the total number of confirmed case in the Maldives to 1,591.

Five deaths have been reported and 242 have made full recoveries.

The Maldives announced a state of public health emergency on March 12, 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 stay-at-home orders in capital Male and its suburbs, a ban on inter-island transport and public gatherings across the country, and a nationwide closing of government offices, schools, colleges and universities.

Non-essential services and public places in the capital such as gyms, cinemas and parks have also been shut.

Restaurants and cafes in the capital have been asked to stop dine-in service and switch to takeaway and delivery.

A nationwide shutdown of all guesthouses, city hotels and spa facilities located on inhabited islands is also in effect.

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