The world took a massive hit in 2020 due to the pandemic. Travel came to a temporary halt and destinations around the world were brought to their knees. As such, the Maldives tourism industry suffered an unimaginable loss. However, in spite of the situation, the destination managed to successfully adapt to the opportunities available to bounce back. The combined hard work of the industry people and the government has led to a remarkable recovery of the industry. An example now for destinations around the world.
With the breakout of the pandemic at the top tourist market to Maldives and the spread to the rest of the world, the destination was forced to close borders to the world on 27th March 2020. This brought a complete halt to the industry. Nearly 1,000 tourists were left marooned at the destination, of which the majority chose to stay to escape the lockdowns back at home.
The lucrative tourism industry was hit hard, and finding the path to recovery made it a lot harder. However, Maldives decided to move forward and reopened borders to all nationalities from 15th July 2020. Travelers were given 30-day tourist visa on arrival and were not subjected to undergo any quarantine measures.
As the industry slowly tries to move forward with the new normal, split stays were re-introduced and to make the destination a safer place for all, effective from 10th September 2020, all visitors were required to have a certificate of negative PCR test result for COVID-19, with the sample taken 72 hours prior to departure to Maldives, counting from the first port of embarkation en-route to the Maldives.
The island nation was promoted as a #SafeHaven to the world. Maldives is an archipelago with over 1,190 coral islands which provide for natural isolation for those travelling to the country. The islands also follow the concept of “one-island-one-resort” under which travelers visiting the Maldives are confined to the resort they are staying in. In addition to this, the luxury Maldives villas, whether it’s an overwater villa, beach villa, underwater villa or even a Bubble, the destination has continued to offer the perfect opportunity to socially distance in style.
The luxury resorts in Maldives were reopened after taking the opportunity not only to refurbish their rooms and public spaces, but to bring major stylish additions to the accommodation types. In addition to this, the properties introduced longer stay special offers and some even offered complete buyouts of the islands themselves.
Maldives reopened borders from 15th July 2020 with a lot of consultations with the government and industry. There were mixed feelings with pros and cons, but still, the president of Maldives took a bold move to open the borders on 15th July with strict and stringent measures in place. Since then, the destination has continued to witness a steady improvement in its tourism industry. Surpassing the milestone of 500,000th tourists in 2020 in advance of the projections, the destination sustained a major comeback in the holiday season.
Maldives has also gained several accolades since the border reopening including, 4 prestigious awards in the Indian Ocean category in the World Travel Awards – the most prestigious honours programme in global travel and tourism, the ‘Best Honeymoon Destination’ at Travel+Leisure India’s Best Awards 2020 and ‘Best Partner of 2020’ Award at Fliggy’s Annual Awards. In addition to this, as per Condé Nast Traveller’s annual Readers’ Choice Awards, last year resorts located in the Maldives dominated the Top 30 Resorts in The Indian Ocean, filling up a grand total of 26 slots. However, the destination’s biggest win came with being awarded the World’s Leading Destination at the World Travel Awards for the first time beating 22 countries.
In the year 2021, Maldives continues to stand swiftly in the fight to move forward with the industry. To create an even a safer scenario for the tourism industry, #Maldives has begun the COVID-19 vaccination for tourism sector employees. With this, the Minister of Tourism , Abdulla Mausoom has revealed that the destination now expects to welcome 1.5 million tourist arrivals in 2021.
The comeback of the Maldives tourism industry is the result of tireless works of the authorities together with the stakeholders and contributors in the industry. It is anticipated that the country will reach peak arrival rates during the year of 2021.