The National Boating Association of Maldives (NBAM) has estimated safari occupancy rate to peak after most safari boats resume operations, nearing the end of 2021.
Since Maldives reopened borders for international travel in July after months since it was closed down due to the Covid-19 pandemic on March 27, the number of tourists booking their stay at liveaboard vessels has been increasing steadily.
The Ministry of Tourism has so far granted 116 safari boats to resume operations.
NBAM’s President, Mohamed Afrah told RaajjeMV that mostly divers and tourists into surfing has been booking safari stays since border reopening.
Those are two of our main sectors. When you look anywhere else across the globe, tourists in these two sectors will be the first to book travels once tourism restarts after a crisis”
~ Mohamed Afrah, NBAM President
Highlighting that numerous tourists wish to visit if they have the chance, Afrah revealed that this inspiration is hindered by the fact that visitors will be required to undergo a mandatory quarantine period after they return home, if they test positive during their stay.
For this reason, NBAM has engaged with discussions with the ministry to explore means through which the quarantine period may be shortened.
Further noting that a majority of liveaboard vessels are operating on a huge discount, Afrah stated that they are putting in a lot of effort to ensure bookings do not get cancelled.
In comparison to last year, only 50 percent of liveaboard vessels are currently in operation.
At a time the government has permitted safaris to operate across the nation, a lot of measures are being implemented to ensure the safety of tourists since the country reopened borders. As such, arrangements have been made in Hulhumalé to conduct PCR testing on safari tourists and tourists as well as crew onboard safari boats have been banned from entering inhabited islands.
While the government has begun issuing approval to begin operating safari boats, they will be observing whether the set guidelines are followed.
Safari operators are required to submit their safari operating licenses and a tax clearance form from the Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA) along with the declaration form to the tourism ministry.
The Covid-19 pandemic has left the country’s economy weakened, especially the tourism industry on which the country heavily depends. Due to the virus, families linked to the tourism sector directly and indirectly have also had their income cut short.
Although borders closed nearing the end of March, the Maldives Marketing and PR Corporation (MMPRC) had not halted their efforts to carry out destination promotion activities.
Since July 15, over 26,000 tourists have arrived in the island nation. The Tourism Minister has set a target of 100,000 arrivals before the end of this year, with numbers picking up within the past few weeks.