Covid-19

Maldives’ tourism industry bears the brunt of Covid-19

  • Maldives confirmed its 11th Covid-19 case on Sunday, third one in 48 hours
  • Authorities imposed the strictest measures so far, on Saturday
  • The country declared a state of public health emergency on Thursday

Zunana Zalif
zunana

K. Male' 2020 Mar 15 | Sun 16:34 report 3,961

Vilivaru quarantine facility - Tourism Ministry

The scatter of tropical islands across the archipelago nation that Maldives is, has remained the root of the country’s tourism development, attracting tourists since the late 1900s. Being the largest economic industry of the country, tourism has proven to be the root cause Maldives is famous for among the international community.

However, decades since it has been thriving, the government of Maldives is now forced to take stringent measures, be it temporary, on the industry.

Much like other countries working to save their people from the novel coronavirus that has swept over the globe in recent months, Maldivian authorities have imposed temporary travel restriction on high-risk nations, in addition to the various other steps taken to curb the spreading of the disease in the country.

While Maldives confirmed its 13th Covid-19 case on Sunday, it is important to note that these are all foreigners from various nations.

STRICTEST MEASURES SO FAR

The government took some its strictest measures on Saturday, shortly after the number of cases in the country reached double digits.

As such, all travel between resorts and inhabited islands are to be suspended for a two-week period in addition to the current ban on all tourist excursions; locals employed in resorts and are elsewhere prior to the ban taking effect will be able to travel to the resort of employment, however, they will have to remain there for this period.

While guests sometime stay in the capital while awaiting a transfer to their destination, resorts have been told that this will also be banned for the 14 days, there is now a ban on new check-ins for all guesthouses and hotels in Malé city (which includes Malé, Villimalé and Hulhumalé) for the same period.

In addition, crew on boats carrying goods to the resorts will be subject to the same restrictions if they were to enter the resort premises; they are only allowed until jetty.

Travel between resorts are prohibited for the duration as well.

These measures were implemented under the state of Public Health Emergency announced on Thursday, and approved by HPA’s Director General of Public Health Maimoona Aboobakuru.

SPAIN, FRANCE AND GERMANY ADDED TO TRAVEL BAN LIST

Maldives also added three nations to the list of nations where travelers with a 14-day travel history are banned entry from, on Sunday.

The new regions are; all ofSpain, Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia and Baden-Württemberg inGermany, and Île-de-France and Grand Est inFrance.

The government previously banned travel fromChina,Italy,Bangladesh,Iranand North and South Gyeongsang Provinces inSouth Korea.

While a number of countries are imposing similar travel bans on high-risk regions, most of the new ones are on European nations where most new cases are seen to be emerging.

Commenting on this, the President of the European Commission recently stated that “certain controls may be justified, but general travel bans are not seen as the most effective”.

Government’s Covid-19 spokesperson, Mohamed Mabrook Aziz said that the country is imposing temporary travel restrictions after communicating with officials from the respective countries and that they “obviously understand the situation”.

RESORTS WHERE POSSIBLE CASES HAVE BEEN REPORTED, THUS FAR

  • *Kuredu Island Resort: 5 positive cases
  • *Sandies Bathala Maldives: 2 positive cases
  • *Kuramathi Island Resort: 2 positive cases
  • *Anantara Dhigu: 2 positive cases
  • Summer Island Resort: negative
  • Six Senses Laamu: 4 in isolation after informing of coming into contact with a positive patient, no tests yet as no symptoms
  • One&Only Reethi Rah: negative
  • Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort and Spa: awaiting results
  • Olhuveli Beach and Spa: awaiting results
  • Sun Aqua Iru Veli Resort: awaiting results
  • Bandos Island Resort: negative
  • Meeru Island Resort and Spa: awaiting results
  • Reethi Beach Resort: awaiting results
  • Vilamendhoo Island Resort and Spa: negative
  • Dreamland Maldives: negative
  • OBLU SELECT at Sangeli Resort: negative

Temporary restrictive measures are imposed on the resorts following suspected cases, which are lifted following negative results or after completing the contact tracing process if a patient tests positive.

OVER 160,000 BOOKINGS CANCELLED SINCE JANUARY

Addressing the nation for the first time since the virus reached the Maldives, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih last week noted that the country’s tourist arrivals this year have dropped between 12 – 35 percent in comparison to the previous year.

He revealed that tourist arrivals have decreased by 22.8 percent in comparison to the previous year and that a total of 161,740 bookings have been cancelled since January.

Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO) estimates the industry to see a negative growth of 29.5 percent.

The industry is expected to lose a daily average of 1,376 bookings, averaging a monthly loss of 41,289 tourist arrivals.

While the country recorded over 1.6 million tourist arrivals in 2019, the government earlier predicted that the tourism industry to grow by eight percent. Given the current circumstance, this seems highly unlikely.

Last updated at: 2 days ago | Reviewed by: Aman Haleem

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