US travellers prefer Maldives for post-coronavirus getaway
A trip to the tropical island nation of the Maldives appears to be on top of the mind of travellers in the United States.
InsureMyTrip has reviewed data using Google search trends to find out which destinations US citizens are planning to visit once restrictions have been lifted.
The most searched destination in the US is the Maldives, which received 18,100 searches during the stay-at-home orders in effect across several US states. The state with the highest contribution of searches for the Maldives is California, followed by Georgia, New York and Pennsylvania.
Greece is second on the list with 14,800 searches during April, which was influenced by a high contribution of searches by Texas. Additionally, there were 11 states in total that picked Greece as their top choice for post-pandemic travel plans.
Fiji and Costa Rica are tied for third, each recording 9,900 Google searches over this period.
The ranking is as follows:
- Maldives (18,100)
- Greece (14,800)
- Fiji (9,900)
- Costa Rica (9,900)
- Bahamas (8,100)
- Mexico (6,600)
- Jamaica (6,600)
- Aruba (6,600)
- Thailand (5,400)
- Italy (4,400)
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.
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.
Even before the visa suspension, the Maldives had closed its borders to arrivals from some of the worst-hit countries, including mainland China, Italy, Bangladesh, Iran, Spain, the United Kingdom, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. 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 were also banned from entering the country.
All direct flights to and from China, Italy, South Korea and Iran were also cancelled.
Cruise ships and foreign yachts were also banned from docking at any of the country’s ports.
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 1,829.
Seven deaths have been reported and 488 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.