The Maldives will be opening its border after controlling the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic and ensuring the safety of the people.
Tourism Minister Ali Waheed made the statement at a press conference held at the National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) on Monday evening, where he also noted that the current forecast for the tourism industry shows that the situation is expected to ease by the time July approaches, when the tourism industry is expected to restart.
This, Minister Waheed said, "is the best case scenario".
Under the moderate case scenario, the industry is expected to kick-start at around October after the government manages to identify the extent of the spread of the disease and control it.
With this being said, the ministry has forwarded an economic council paper on getting the tourism industry going once again, to the President's Office.
After discussions and recommendations from the government, this paper will be shared with industry professions after which policies will be penned to kick-start the sector with the opinions from the industry experts as well as the people.
Tourism ministry has identified the guidelines followed in other countries as well. As such, under these guidelines, the government will decided which airport to open first as well as the operation of flights.
Waheed noted that the government has identified how this can be carried out under the new normal and that some industry experts recommend the border to be opened even now while there are others who wish to delay it.
With this being said, Waheed noted that the government has been setting target dates since the tourism industry is the heart of the country’s economy and is linked to the economic growth of the island nation.
In this regard, the border will be opened for the people and not for the sake of businesses, said Waheed.
"There are opinions within the industry to open the border even now, and there are some calling to delay it. The government wants to open the border only after the virus has been controlled for the safety of the people, until then the border will not be opened. However, these target dates are set as tourism is the main tree of the people's livelihoods and the fruit the tree bears is linked to every part of the country's economy. So, when the border is opened, it will not be done for the sake of a businessman, but for the sake of the people"
~ Tourism Minister Ali Waheed
Further, the minister added that their current focus for the next few days must be to maintain the current measures in place and that additional measures will not be taken.
If things go well, the authorities are expecting everything to settle down within two to six months. Waheed added that they have been receiving tourist requests to allow travel into the country, even if they are required to spend a number of days in quarantine, including tourists from the Chinese market.
A Tourism App will be introduced on the day the first tourist arrives after the borders are reopened and the app will include everything related to the tourism industry, Waheed revealed.