‘Maldives was granted the “Safe Travel” stamp by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) and Velana International Airport received the health accreditation ahead of many other destinations in the region.’
Thoyyib Mohamed, MD of Maldives Marketing & PR Corporation of Government of Maldives, replied to The Sunday Guardian’s questions.
Q: How tough was the decision to open up Maldives’ tourism sector when a pandemic is raging across the world?
A: The Government of Maldives has taken several proactive measures to contain the spread of Covid-19, as Maldives is a tourism driven country. The Maldivian government had numerous consultations with the stakeholders. The outcome was of mixed feelings towards opening the border. President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih took a bold move by opening the borders on 15 July 2020
At the peak of the pandemic, when the travel restrictions were imposed in 2020, we re-strategized our promotional activities towards online and digital and with inspirational content. Furthermore, we began to curate marketing activities in accordance with the traveller’s sentiments.
On the ground level, thermal screening facilities were set up at all international airports and seaports to identify passengers with possible symptoms, who would require isolation. Strict border control measures were also initiated.
With the reopening of borders for international travel post lockdown, our main motive in kick-starting the tourism sector of the destination is to raise the arrival number to pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year. Thus, our main strategy is to present Maldives as a top of the mind destination to our target markets and promote the destination as a safe haven to travellers. Despite the pandemic, Maldives has done well.
Q: How safe is travelling to Maldives in the time of the global pandemic? Why would people visit your country when there is a pandemic raging?
A: Maldives was granted the “Safe Travel” stamp by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) and Velana International Airport received the health accreditation ahead of many other destinations in the region. This gave Maldives the confidence to reopen borders for international tourists.
Maldives has been marked on the map as one of the most popular and desired tourist destinations. World famous white sandy beaches, crystal clear turquoise water and the unparalleled underwater beauty contribute to the popularity of Maldives as one of the top destinations among travellers worldwide.
Travellers seek the Maldives for various reasons; all carrying their own preferences and desires. Some seek a divine opportunity for relaxation, secluded by a private island offering visitors the chance to escape the hustle and bustle of the daily modern industrial life. They seek a chance to arrive in the present moment and connect with themselves and nature. Other travellers seek thrill, adventure or a culinary experience like none before.
There is no feeling more exhilarating than diving with sharks in some of the most well-known dive spots in the world. Let’s not forget, the Maldives is also popular as a lavish honeymoon destination, attracting couples to share the tranquillity and calmness one can find in the Maldives. It is to create a deeply impactful memory together, the type that lasts a lifetime.
Amidst the global pandemic, the Maldives is gaining momentum and recognition as a safe haven for travellers because of its unique geographically isolated islands and the popular “one island one resort” concept. The Maldives is the perfect holiday destination to spend quality time with your loved ones in a safe and relaxing environment.
Q: India is an important market for Maldives. But there is this perception that Maldives is an expensive destination and may not be very pocket friendly for budget Indian tourists, especially at a time when tourists are not going to Male, where possibly the budget accommodations are, but only to the resorts. What do you have to say about this?
A: Maldives is perceived as a luxury destination across the globe. Over the past years we have diversified our tourist offerings, currently we have 159 resorts with different star categories that cater to everyone. Furthermore, we now have 552 guesthouses, which are located in local islands that perfectly fit for the budget travellers, and those who are seeking to experience the local culture and cuisines. Additionally, we have 130 liveaboards which cater to a comprehensive range of accommodation facilities on board. Cruising on a liveaboard is an ideal way to explore the country. With that being said, we continuously put efforts in creating an awareness for all the diverse product ranges we offer to our travellers.
Q: What special things are you doing for tourists this year? And any special messages for tourists?
A: We are elated to be open for tourism to the world. We want to make visitors feel safe and comfortable. Resorts, guesthouses and liveaboards are currently open and they offer unique experiences that the visitors can enjoy safely.
To keep in mind, the safety of our guests and all service providers in Maldives, we require a negative PCR test for Covid-19 (96 hours prior to departure) and an online health declaration form should be filled and submitted within 24 hours prior to departure.
Maldives is geographically blessed with naturally distanced islands which makes it a safe haven for travellers. Our one-island-one-resort concept also provides travellers a safe and secure holiday experience. This means that each hotel is situated on one island, far away from one another, and only the staff and tourists are situated on the island. All these measures in place ensure that tourists will get to enjoy a safe and hassle free vacation.