With the administration of the COVID-19 vaccination drive for tourism sector employees, Maldives now expects to welcome 1.5 million tourist arrivals in 2021, said Tourism Minister, Abdulla Mausoom.
While speaking at the parliament during a ministerial questioning session today, Minister revealed that the government was initially expecting to welcome 1 million tourists in the year. However, as the country received the supply of the COVID-19 vaccine earlier, the target is now increased to 1.5 million tourist arrivals.
Minister also highlighted that discussions are underway to use bed nights as key indicator of tourism rather than arrivals. This is so because the bed nights will give a better picture of the industry revenue. “Our target is to get 10 million bed nights in 2021,” Minister stated.
Though the forecasted tourist arrival target has increased, due to the lockdowns in Europe, the tourist arrival figures for the months of January and February are not as anticipated, he added.
In addition to this, the Minister revealed that Maldives is targeting to explore vaccine tourism, which will see tourists arriving in Maldives for vaccinations against COVID-19. “As per scientists, the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccination must be administered after four weeks. Some vaccines require the second dose after three weeks. So, tourists could stay for as long as three weeks, making it more beneficial to the industry,” said the Minister.
However, the vaccine tourism project is on hold at the moment as the priority right now is to administer the vaccine to the whole population of Maldives. Works for vaccine tourism will commence after discussions with the Health Protection Agency of Maldives, Minister added. Hopefully, Maldives would be counted as a nation that begins vaccine tourism,” said the Minister.