Kuoni adds Emerald, Kagi Maldives for 2021

New handpicked resorts in the Maldives are being added to Kuoni’s collection for 2021 as it looks to strengthen its position as the Indian Ocean specialist.

More than 56 per cent of the luxury global travel company’s bookings to date for 2021 are for Indian Ocean destinations, with the Maldives being number one followed by Mauritius and Sri Lanka.

The UK-based operator is now aiming to position itself as the original Indian Ocean specialist, with more handpicked resorts, exclusively negotiated offers and expertise to help create bespoke itineraries.

In the Maldives, Kuoni is adding the brand new Kagi Maldives Spa Island, which is the destination’s first dedicated wellness haven, scheduled to open in September this year, with a focus on restorative health, fitness and nourishing menus. This boutique, five star retreat in North Male Atoll has 50 villas all with private pools, with 40 of these being water villas.

Another new addition for the Maldives is the Emerald Maldives Resort & Spa, a cool five star resort which is already open and in operation, but a great new option for families looking for a luxury secluded escape. With spacious pool villas and plenty of activities including bicycles to cycle around the island and plenty of activities for young holidaymakers, it’s geared towards luxury all-inclusive.

“Bookings for the Indian Ocean, particularly the Maldives are outperforming every other destination we sell around the world, with the Maldives currently accounting for 56 per cent of bookings for 2021. The Maldives has always been our best seller but it’s soaring even further ahead right now,” Sheena Paton, senior product and purchasing manager at Kuoni, was quoted in a a statement, as saying.

“By visiting the destination ourselves on a regular basis, we’re able to spot new hotels, hidden gems which have had a refresh and even sailing ships which we think our customers will love and ensure that we’re the ‘go-to’ company for all things Indian Ocean to suit a wide range of budgets.”

Kuoni says it continues to work hand-in-hand with its destination partners as borders open to ensure its giving the most up to date advice to customers.

The Maldives is preparing to reopen its borders to visitors in July.

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.

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 2,187.

Eight deaths have been reported and 1,788 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 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 were also shut.

Restaurants and cafes in the capital were 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 was also ordered.

These measures allowed authorities to contain the outbreak.

More than half of the people who contracted the virus have recovered and daily recoveries have over taken the number of new infections detected per day.

The restrictions are now being eased in phases, with the second phase lasting at least until June end.

Photo: Emerald Maldives Resort. PHOTO/ EMERALD

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