Travel Destinations

The Maldives Is Reopening to Tourist Travel, Even for Americans

Here’s some good news for those frustrated by the lack of travel options in the Covid-19 era: The Maldives is reopening to international visitors on July 15.

And, yes, that includes U.S. citizens.

The picturesque chain of almost 1,200 islands in the Indian Ocean has a remote location that lends itself naturally to social distancing, with luxury accommodations focused on private overwater bungalows and much of the activity outdoors as well—all fortunate factors for the economy of the 400,000-person country that’s heavily dependent on tourism.

International visitors will be allowed only on resort islands and live-aboard boats as of July 15; on Aug. 1, guest houses and hotels on inhabited islands will be allowed to reopen. Of course, that comes with the big caveat that you still have to get there and then get back.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that anyone traveling on an airplane is at increased risk of contracting Covid-19 because of close contact with others at airports and on flights themselves. The CDC also advises anyone returning to America from another country to stay home for 14 days, avoid contact with others, and monitor for symptoms such as a fever or cough. Conversely, there’s the increased risk of bringing the virus abroad, as cases trend upward in the U.S.

In other words: Visiting is no small affair. Nor is it cheap. Because almost every resort in the Maldives is its own private island, many luxury hotels charge upwards of $1,500 a night. (Spending twice that much is hardly unheard of.) And that’s before seaplane or speed boat transfers, which can run a hundreds of dollars round trip.

Photographer: EXTREME-PHOTOGRAPHER/E+

Smoothing the Process

Still, the Maldives is trying to make it relatively easy, at least on its end.

“Tourists are not required to pay an additional fee, produce a certificate or test result indicative of negative status for Covid-19 prior to entry into Maldives. For tourists without symptoms, there is no requirement for quarantine either,” according to an announcement from the Maldives Marketing & PR Corp.

Any tourist who does show Covid-19 symptoms will have to pay for a test, the statement cautioned, adding that people with visible symptoms or those with a history of contact with a confirmed Covid-19 case “are advised not to travel to Maldives.”

The Maldives has been working toward the reopening for weeks. The impact of the pandemic on the tourism sector has ranked up there with the 2004 tsunami and the global financial crisis.

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Photographer: EyesWideOpen/Getty Images Europe

Those who do venture to the archipelago will have some choice. By the end of the month, more than 40 resorts out of a total of about 150 properties are expected to be operational, according to the Maldives’ Ministry of Tourism. The Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru and Soneva Fushi are already open, and the One & Only Reethi Rah will open on July 24, and Milaidhoo Island is slated for an Aug. 1 opening, a list from the ministry showed.

Many resorts are waiting a bit longer, though—and peak season is from around December to March, anyway. That’s when skies are clearest and tropical temperatures fall to more moderate levels. Almost 50 of the resorts on the country’s list are planning to open around Oct. 1. Como Maalifushi says it will get going again in mid-November.

Safety Protocols

The islands’ resorts and accommodations are taking all recommended precautions, a Maldives spokesperson says, and properties have implemented new cleanliness and hygiene protocols to ensure that guests will be safe.

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