There are few people who wouldn’t want to visit the Maldives, especially when most haven’t been far from their house in the past year. Now imagine getting vaccinated whilst on its sandy beaches, sipping a cocktail–the Maldives is offering just that.
The island is currently open to all vaccinated tourists plus any other travelers who are in possession of a negative Covid-19 test result, taken not more than 3 days before arrival. And for this latter group, the archipelago has launched a new tourism campaign, called ‘3V,’ for ‘Visit, Vaccinate, Vacation.’ Once all local residents have been offered the chance to take a vaccine, as reported by Condé Nast Traveler, shots will become available for anyone traveling to the Maldives on holiday.
Maldivian Tourism Minister Abdulla Mausoom said that “the main idea of tourism being open is to provide a reasonably safe tourism with minimum inconvenience. So once the country gets vaccinated, then we will move on to ‘3V’ tourism.”
And in one sense, the Maldives doesn’t have far to go. Mausoom reported that 90% of frontline workers, and almost 50% of the overall population have already had one dose of vaccine against Covid-19.
However, the Maldives receives its Covid-19 vaccines through the World Health Organization’s Covax program, which is where governments donate doses to countries who cannot provide their own–in this case, doses have also arrived from China and India.
It is not known when the Maldive plans to start this 3V program; it may be hindered as according to a report by Associated Press, the delivery of many doses through the Covax program has been stalled until at least June.
The WHO has said too, as reported by Condé Nast, that it is not in favour of programs where vaccines would be given out to leisure travelers, when these doses could crucially go elsewhere.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a briefing in early April of the “shocking imbalance” between countries in terms of access to Covid-19 shots. “On average in high-income countries, almost one in four people has received a COVID-19 vaccine,” he said. “In low-income countries, it’s one in more than 500,” as reported by Reuters.
However, the Maldives is desperate to reboot its travel and tourism industry, which makes up 28% of its GDP. In 2019, the Maldives had 1.9 million visitors but only 550,000 in 2020. The tourist board wants 1.5 million visitors in 2021–as of mid-April, it had seen 350,000 arrivals.