For 2021, most Brits want to laze away in Maldives
Travel insurance firm Medical Travel Compared has analysed 2020 Google searches to identify next year’s top holiday destinations of choice among Brits.
The research shows that it’s the picture-perfect Maldives that sweeps the number one spot of dream holiday destinations, closely followed by Mexico and then Bali. For those in the north of the UK and Northern Ireland, Mexico is the most wanderlust-worthy, while searches for the Maldives dominate in the south.
A survey of over 3,000 UK travellers conducted by the travel insurer earlier this year found that four in five of us (83 per cent) feel optimistic about travel next year and it’s clear to see Brits are using this time in lockdown to research next year’s getaway.
The revelation comes days after official figures showed Britain as the second biggest source market for Maldives tourism since the island nation’s border reopening in July.
The positive development about arrival numbers reflect strong demand seen by travel agents and tour operators in several source markets, especially major European markets such as the UK.
Travel firm Kuoni has revealed that travellers in the UK were planning to splash out on luxury Christmas overseas trips after settling for summer staycations, with demand for year-end getaways in Maldives on the arise.
Bookings for 2021 trips to the Maldives are also on the rise.
Recent Google search data has also shown the Maldives as the top holiday destination among Europeans for next year.
The Maldives reopened its borders on July 15.
Resorts and hotels on uninhabited islands as well as liveaboard vessels were allowed to host tourists (please see a rolling list of resort reopenings here).
Guesthouses and hotels located on inhabited islands were to be allowed to reopen on August 1 but a surge in coronavirus cases in capital Male forced the authorities to extend a ban on guesthouse operations until October 15.
With the border reopening, 30-day free on-arrival visa is issued to all tourists with a confirmed booking for a stay at any registered tourist facility in the country.
There is no mandatory quarantine or testing on arrival, but tourists have to complete an online health declaration form and provide a negative PCR test result taken at least 72 hours prior to their departure.
Visitors with symptoms of the Covid-19 respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus or those travelling with someone who has similar symptoms are also tested at their own expense.
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, only 382,760 tourists visited the Maldives before the country closed its borders on March 27. It was a 40.8 per cent decline over the 646,092 that visited the Maldives from January to March last year.
Meanwhile, the government’s best case scenario now puts total tourist arrivals for 2020 just above 800,000.
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 8,741.
Twenty-nine deaths have been reported, while 6,157 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.