Opinion: Maldives – One of the Most Popular Holiday Destinations Post Covid-19

It was with no surprise but with a lot of excitement that I read the news about Maldives being the second most Googled desitnation for post-lockdown holidays.

The detailed article published in Edition.MV, a local news tabloid explains that an analysis by Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) details about Maldives coming in second place. Maldives attained the second position with a global annual search volume of 1.79 million, following closely behind Italy. It is no doubt that the island destination has so far been quite successful in resuming tourism while maintaining the spread of Covid-19. In fact, number of cases have actually decreased in the past weeks.  Only a few daily cases are being reported outside the Capital City Male’ where there is a community spread. Tourists are not allowed to visit any local islands including Male’ City and no one from Male’ is allowed to travel to any tourist facility as of now.

All of it even got better a couple of days ago, with headlines briefing out the cheerful news of Maldives receiving the Safe Tourism Stamp by the World Travel & Tourism Council. Maldives is listed along with 33 other countries which have fully adopted health and hygiene global standardised protocols according to the details published in the website of World Travel & Tourism Council.

Thanks to our geographical features, the Maldives archipelago is certainly helping out to contain the spread and to provide tourists with a “safety” confidence. Since borders opened in July only a handful of positive cases has been reported of tourists and both the hoteliers and the government are handling those cases pretty well. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be quarantined in Paradise if contracted with the virus. The recent regulation imposed by the Government which requires all tourists to possess a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to arrival to Maldives gives all of us including tourists even more security. Additionally Velana International Airport, the only International Airport which is currently allowed to operate in Maldives was the second  in the Asia Pacific region to be accredited under the ACI (Airport Council International) Airport Health Accreditation (AHA) programme.

Maldives is one of the very few countries, the very first in Asia which opened its borders for tourists through out the globe and have so far handled the safety and security of guests exceptionally. Tourists are currently allowed only to stay in Liveaboards or Resort Islands which has achieved certain health & safety standards as per the guidelines set by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) . Maldives will soon allow guesthouses to be opened in local Islands which doesn’t have a community spread (All Islands Except Male’), however with all set of stringent protocols to keep both the locals and tourists safe.  Countries such as Russia and India which are among the top tourism markets to Maldives have already created travel bubbles  and we are expecting Singapore and many European countries to follow suit. Since the borders opened, Maldives has welcomed the highest number of tourists from UAE and UAE still continuous to be at the top, following UK, US and Spain.

“The good that has come out of Maldives’ reopening is that it creates global confidence that Maldives is safe and is open, which is assuring for travel agents and wholesalers to sell. At least there is a strategy, support and a whole mechanism in place,” said Dirk De Cuyper, CEO of S Hotels & Resorts to an interview he gave to Skift. According to Skift, Mr. De Cuyper further believes that Maldives will achieve market share of some of the leading resort destinations that are still closed for tourists such as Bali, Mauritius, Seychelles and Pukhet. The same I believe, could happen to the liveaboard market providing diving and surfing holidays. As Mr. De Cuyper further explains in the article, one of the important factors that I believe which has led to the success in maintaining tourism in Maldives post Covid-19 is that the government has done an excellent job working together with the private sector ensuring that safety guidelines are met prior to re-opening. Proper communication and user friendliness of these guidelines have also caused a positive impact in attaining affirmative results.

One of the Infographics published by MMPRC for tourists

All of the above factors have certainly contributed to Maldives being the second most googled destination around the world. If  we continue to follow the guidelines creating an optimistic atmosphere and ambience with maximum safety and providing a hospitable and satisfying vacation to our customers, we could surely be one of the the most preferred destination among tourists through out the world. What I personally feel is that with the current trends, Maldives can expect a boom in tourism in the near future, especially once the vaccine has been consumed by majority of the leading markets.

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