Maldives welcomes 100k tourists after border reopening

Maldives on Saturday welcomed the 100,000th visitor since the reopening of its borders in July.

At a grand event held at Velana International Airport Saturday morning, tourism ministry, Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC), Maldives Immigration and Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL) jointly identified and welcomed the 100,000th tourist.

“Surpassing the milestone of 100,000 tourists in advance of the projections is really encouraging. This achievement is the outcome of a unified #MaldivesApproach to a global challenge. This is the result of HEP Solih’s courageous decision to open the Maldives borders with a whole of government, whole of travel and tourism industry and whole of community approach to ensure this vital industry is set in motion with a strong focus on safety with the minimum possible inconvenience to tourists,” tourism minister Dr Abdulla Mausoom said.

“Thanks to travel and tourism industry partners, employees, and associations; health professionals, related government authorities and councils; the diplomatic and international community and lovely people of the Maldives; the team members of Immigration, Airports Company, Tourist Police, Port Health, Customs, MMPRC and Ministry of Tourism. We thank the tourists for visiting us and sharing their #MaldivesExperience to the world. You all made this possible.”

The 100,000th tourist, Jasmin Burki, arrived from Switzerland via Emirates.

On arrival, officials of MMPRC and Maldives Immigration, along with a deputy tourism minister, MMPRC Managing Director Thoyyib Mohamed, Controller General of Immigration Mohamed Ahmed Hussain and MACL CEO Gordon Andrew Stewart accompanied the lucky tourist.

Immigration controller Hussain also handed over a special gift to her.

“I am delighted to welcome the 100,000th tourist today. It was unimaginable, but I saw the thirst of the related agencies and industry stakeholders to achieve this milestone in such a short period of time. This gives us the assurance that, even under dire circumstances, we can achieve remarkable things by working together,” he said.

“With wishful thinking, dedication and significant innovation on the policy front, our tourism industry is coming back from the depths of collapse by a swift rebound in growth. I would also like to ensure that Maldives Immigration will embrace new technologies and utilise all available resources to fast-track the passage for tourists. The launching of the world’s first nation-wide loyalty programme, Maldives Border Miles is one such initiative and we aim to achieve new heights in 2021, together with our joint stakeholders.”

Upon receiving the special gift pack, Jasmin then took a photo by the official jetty with the special “Instagram Frame” which highlights that Maldives is the World’s Leading Destination of 2020.

MMPRC Managing Director Thoyyib, MACL CEO Steward and the deputy tourism minister also handed a special holiday gift.

Thoyyib congratulated Burki and gave her a warm welcome.

“I am beyond thrilled to welcome the 100,000th visitor to the sunny side of life, today. This is indeed, the success of joint efforts and collaborations with everyone working in the tourism industry. Our teamwork ensured that we reached this stage during such challenging times,” he said.

“I would like to assure everyone that Maldives is one of the safest countries to visit right now and that we will work strategically in order for it to remain on top of the preferred tourist destinations.”

During such a crucial time, such achievements contribute to the success of the Maldives tourism industry, and the rising tourist arrival numbers are an indication that Maldives is one of the safest destinations to travel to right now.

It is anticipated that the 500,000th tourist of 2020 will arrive by late December, and that the country will reach peak arrival rates during the year of 2021.

“This is truly an amazing day as we receive the 100,000th tourist to the Maldives. As a result of the Covid-19 Pandemic, for around four months we were without any commercial airlines to Velana International Airport,” The MACL CEO Stewart said.

“Despite those difficult times, I am really impressed with how quickly the Maldives took fast and decisive action to combat the Covid-19 pandemic situation and maintain our sunny side of life, on the world stage. Velana International Airport was awarded the ACI Health Accreditation Certificate, the 2nd Airport from Asia Pacific to achieve this. The Maldives was awarded the Safe Travel Stamp from UNWTO and the title of World’s Leading Destination by the World Travel Awards. Recognition of its premier destination status on the world stage. All this hard work has been rewarded with ever increasing numbers of passengers flying in every month since our borders reopened on the 15th July 2020. The future now looks brighter for the Maldives and I sincerely thank all stakeholders and contributors who have made Maldives such a truly great destination to holiday in.”

Last year was a remarkable one in the history of Maldives’ tourism, with a groundbreaking record of 1.7 million tourist arrivals to the country.

This year started off with more diversified and aggressive marketing strategies to break this record and reach a target of two million tourist arrivals by the end of the year.

However, due to the ongoing global pandemic, Maldives had to close its borders on March 27.

After almost four months of border closure, the tourism industry reopened on July 15, with enhanced precautionary measures against Covid-19. A safe tourism guideline was issued by the tourism ministry.

Resorts and liveaboards resumed operations on this date, whereas guesthouses resumed operations on October 15. As of December 14, guesthouses and hotels in the greater Male region are also scheduled to reopen.

Since the border reopening, there has been a gradual increase in tourist arrivals with the establishment of travel bubbles between Maldives and other countries, as well as a greater connectivity in terms of flight operations. Over 18 airlines are currently traveling to and from Maldives, from all around the globe.

On December 6, Maldives broke the record of daily arrivals since the reopening which was a total of 3,006 tourists, whereas the air traffic movement on this date was 352.

The positive development about arrival numbers reflect strong demand seen by travel agents and tour operators in several source markets. It also follows the resumption of scheduled passenger services by several global airlines.

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.

Meanwhile, air connectivity between the Maldives and several major tourist source markets is also improving.

The Maldives reopened its borders on July 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 96 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.

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