While a safe tourism guideline by the tourism ministry has been circulating online, the ministry has said that this is just an “initial draft”.
This guideline was met with public criticism, and the tourism ministry released a statement on Tuesday to clarify matter.
Noting that the “draft guideline” in circulation was shared with tourism industry stakeholders and notes basic procedures to restart the country’s tourism industry, the statement emphasized that “this document is an initial draft”
The government’s official policy will only be finalized and published after incorporating comments and suggestions from all industry stakeholders, reads the statement, adding that the ministry invites “all concerned parties to highlight any comments and to share suggestion in relation to the procedures set forth by this document”.
They have been asked to send in the comments before May 25.
Safe Tourism Guideline
The draft guideline for safe tourism includes procedures to be followed in allowing entry into the country and resorts, as well as procedures for tourist establishments to follow in case of symptomatic Covid-19 cases.
As such, a prior confirmed booking with a safe tourism resort is compulsory and the entirety of the stay “must be booked in one tourist facility”.
The guideline also states that a special tourist visa fee of USD 100 for arrivals “will be applicable until further notice” while chartered flights and private jets are to be charged a landing fee of USD 50,000. Further, any tourist vessel entering the Maldives territorial wasters will be charged USD 10,000 while cruise ships are to be restricted.
A negative PCR report dated maximum seven days will also be required to enter the country, while another PCR test is to be conducted upon arrival for an additional fee of USD 100.
Further, tourists are to be escorted directly to their rooms after arriving at their destination resort, where a web-based check-in option is to be provided. The tourists have to remain in their rooms “until the receipt of their on-arrival PCR test results”.
Further, the guideline also noted tentative dates to open the country’s borders; arrivals by jets and super yachts are to be allowed from June 1, while charters and commercial airlines are to be allowed a month later.
Not government’s policy
The matter was discussed at the Covid-19 press briefing at the National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) on Tuesday night, with spokesperson Mohamed Mabrook Aziz stressing that “this is not the government’s policy”.
He also said that a new normal is being discussed by all industries, and that policies will be established as per opinions from stakeholders,
While prominent leaders in the country have called to reopen Maldives' borders over socio-economic concerns, Mabrook stressed that the government's biggest priority "is the safety of the people".
"We have made it very clear, from the start, there is no purpose of economic profits if the people's safety is not ensured"
~ Mohamed Mabrook Aziz, NEOC spokesperson