Today the 15th of July 2020, we celebrate Maldives restarting tourism! Maldives international borders closed on March 27th – the first time in 47 years since tourism first started in Maldives. This morning saw the first tourists travel to Maldives in COVID-19, with 107 foreigners and 24 Maldivians onboard the Qatar Airways flight. The flight was welcomed by an offical water salute arranged by MACL. All travellers were graciously welcomed to the ‘new normal’ of Maldives Tourism at Velana International Airport.
MALDIVES SIGNIFICANTLY EFFECTED BY TOURISM LOSS
Whilst the strict lockdown measures adopted by Maldives government have successfully lowered cases of COVID-19 in Maldives to well below the projected models, and containing most cases to the capital city Malé, the suspension of tourist visas for 3.5 months has resulted in zero tourist arrivals. COVID-19 in Maldives has impacted the socio-economics of the country more negatively than the 2004 Asian Tsunami and the 2008 Global Financial Crisis. During COVID-19 in Maldives, Indulge Maldives has been doing our bit to help support our local island communities in this time of crisis by starting an online financial fundraiser to support local communities – more on this later below.
HEALTH & SAFETY IS OUR PRIORITY IN MALDIVES RESTARTING TOURISM
As we learn to embrace the ‘new normal’ of Maldives restarting tourism, it’s our number one priority to ensure the health & safety of our Indulge Maldives guests, tourism personnel & local Maldivian residents & communities. We’ve been working alongside our local island hotels, guesthouse & resort partners to ensure proper health & safety protocols are in place ready to welcome our Indulge Maldives guests in a safe manner – in accordance to the Ministry of Tourism & HPA Guidelines. During this new phase of restarting Maldives tourism, we are only working with our property partners who have implemented the correct training for their staff, & who are confident in providing a safe tourism environment at their establishment. This includes having appropriate preventative & emergency procedures in place, to ensure the health & safety of our Indulge Maldives guests.
WHEN IS MALDIVES RESTARTING TOURISM?
15th July 2020.
40 resorts in operations.
Entry procedures and restrictions to be eased on September 1, 2020 unless extended by the Government.
15th July 2020.
LOCAL ISLAND GUESTHOUSES:
August 1, 2020 – subject to change based on the national COVID-19 status.
THE ‘NEW NORMAL’ OF TRAVELLING TO MALDIVES DURING COVID-19 – WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE:
Our best Maldives travel advice for our guests when travelling to Maldives during COVID-19, is to encourage you to adopt an independent style of vacation in Maldives. This means practising social distancing at all times during the vacation, minimal touch points at Maldives airports, carrying sanitiser & masks & practising regular hand washing, taking private excursions & travelling on reduced passenger transfers where possible, spending time in rooms as opposed to indoor common areas in the hotels & bringing own snorkelling & surfing equipment if possible. We encourage our guests to dine in open al fresco areas. Resorts are limiting the number of table settings at each restaurant, increasing the space between tables & are reducing the number of restaurants open within the establishment due to lower occupancy. On local islands (from 1st Aug), we are advising our guests to please dine at hotel restaurants only & avoid public cafés & restaurants in Maldives in COVID-19. We understand this may impact your local island experience, however health & safety of the local community is paramount.
Another highly important piece of Maldives travel advice is that we request all of our Indulge Maldives guests to have appropriate travel insurance cover for COVID-19 in Maldives. All of our Indulge Maldives retreats have also been postponed to 2021, to prevent large group trips.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW – ‘GUIDELINES FOR RESTARTING MALDIVES TOURISM’
– IMPORTANT –
All Tourists entering Maldives must pre-fill a health declaration card via the below link, 24hours before arrival in Maldives. ACCESS FORM HERE.
The Safe Tourism Guidelines, devised by Maldivian health authorities and tourism industry professionals, facilitates the restarting Maldives tourism, whilst ensuring the safety of visitors & residents.
ENTRY INTO MALDIVES:
- Tourists must have a confirmed pre-booking at only 1 accommodation facility (on one island) registered with Ministry of Tourism, for their entire stay, prior to their arrival in Maldives. This is a basic pre-requisite for being granted an entry visa.
- All tourists must pre-fill a health declaration at least 24 hours before arriving in Maldives (see link at top) to be granted a 30 day free Tourist Visa on Arrival. Emergency contact information must be provided.
- Tourist visa extensions are available for long-stay tourists and those requiring visa extensions, due to quarantine measures, without fees.
- Testing services available for travellers requiring COVID-19 test results to return to their home country or another destination.
ARRIVAL AT AIRPORT
- Tourists are not be subject to quarantine on arrival, however should expect random temperature checks & testing on arrival at no cost.
- You MUST wear face masks from plane to hotel room.
- Everyone must maintain a distance of at least 1 metre at all times.
- Airport authorities will ensure that luggage trolleys are disinfected after each use. Disinfected and used trolleys will be kept separately.
- You will be met by an authorised representative from a tourist facility at arrivals.
- All visitors are encouraged to install the contact tracing app‘Trace Ekee’ upon or before arrival into the Maldives.
- Temperature checks and screening will be carried out if you exhibit COVID-19 symptoms – cough, runny nose or shortness of breath. You will be isolated, you must undergo a PCR test (at own cost) and be accommodated in a transit facility until your PCR results are received.
- If one member of a group traveling together displays symptoms, all members shall be tested.
- If you return a positive PCR result, you will be isolated at the tourist facility you are booked to stay, or transferred to isolate in a government run facility (subject to medical condition).
- Vessels, guesthouses and hotels on inhabited islands may not accept tourists who have tested positive for COVID-19 on arrival.
- Compulsory to wear a mask and use hand sanitiser before boarding your transfer vessel or aircraft.
- Must maintain a safe distance of at least 1 metre.
- If you return a positive PCR test results you will be transferred to your destination via a separate transfer conforming to protocols set forth by HPA.
- Resorts have designated areas for isolation. Tourists with a positive PCR result shall be escorted directly to their rooms and isolated as outlined by HPA guidelines. You will only be allowed to checkout as per national guidelines by HPA.
- Resorts staff are trained in the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), disinfecting procedures & social distancing.
- Resorts have resident medical officers on site who have undergone HPA certified training on COVID-19 management, isolation procedures and sampling.
- Resorts have devised health & safety & emergency plans prior to reopening.
- You will be allowed to embark and disembark from Tourist Vessels only at pre-designated harbours, as listed by the Ministry of Tourism, and vessels are not allowed, to call into any other harbours.
- The vessel will be disinfected as per HPA guidelines after departure of guests and before new guests can be accepted onboard.
- Vessels going ashore on inhabited islands are subject to HPA guidelines on quarantine and COVID-19 screening.
- Crew must wear masks when in direct contact with tourists in enclosed spaces.
- Tourist vessels submitted health and safety plans to the Ministry of Tourism before resuming operations.
- Tourists and staff presenting with symptoms will be tested for COVID-19 and vessel operators must facilitate isolation if a guest presents with COVID-19 symptoms.
- Cruise ships and yachts will not be allowed to embark or disembark passengers on or off inhabited islands until August 1, 2020.
LOCAL ISLAND HOTEL & GUESTHOUSES
- Resident doctor on an island must have undergone HPA certified training on COVID-19 management, isolation procedures and sampling before guesthouses can reopen.
- Guesthouse must provide for isolation in the guest’s room as per standards set forth by HPA.
- Social distancing guidelines must be followed.
- Guesthouses submitted health and safety plans to the Ministry of Tourism for approval prior to restarting operations.
- Any flu-like symptoms from staff or tourists are to be immediately reported to the local health authorities and HPA.
- Additional safety measures for diving and water sports are governed by detailed regulations approved by HPA.
- You will be restricted from diving or excursions if you show symptoms even if you have tested negative for COVID-19. You will only be allowed to participate in diving or activities after symptoms have cleared fully.
FLEXIBLE MALDIVES BOOKING POLICY & FREE MALDIVES CANCELLATION POLICY FOR OUR GUESTS
We’ve been trying our best to make booking your future Maldives travels as easy, flexible & reassuring as possible for our beloved Indulge Maldives guests during COVID-19. Over the past few months, we’ve been assisting guests unable to travel to Maldives in COVID-19 by offering free re-schedule of their travel dates. We’ve also created a new flexible Maldives booking policy and a free Maldives cancellation on some packages:
For all new bookings, we have lowered the deposit rate to just 10%.
LOCAL ISLAND BUDGET PACKAGES:
Free cancellation & a fully refundable deposit up until 7 days before trip departure. Full payment due 7 days before arrival. View Budget Packages
10% non-refundable deposit, final balance not due until 15-31 days before (resort depending). Free re-schedule of travel dates & all monies paid rolled over to the new travel dates, in the extenuating circumstances of airline cancellations & international boarder closures due to COVID-19. All funds paid other than non-refundable 10% deposit can be refunded, up until final balance due date.
LOCAL ISLAND PERSONALISED ITINERARY & HOTEL BOOKINGS:
10% non-refundable deposit applies, final balance not due until 7-15 days before (hotel depending). Free re-schedule of travel dates & all monies paid rolled over to the new travel dates, in the extenuating circumstances of airline cancellations & international boarder closures due to COVID-19. All funds paid other than non-refundable 10% deposit can be refunded, up until final balance due date.
WE’RE FEEDING MALDIVIAN FAMILIES THROUGHOUT THE COVID CRISIS
Help us feed Maldivian families: We have started a fundraiser to give back to Maldivians who face financial hardship during COVID-19. 1% of every booking is donated towards feeding Maldivian families on local islands, affected by the dramatic downfall of tourism. Maldives relies 85% on tourism, which has been non-existent over the past 4 months. Many Maldivian families are unable to put food on their tables, have accumulating rent & medical bills, plus internet & cable TV & phone services have been cut. To date, Indulge Maldives has raised over AUD $3100 and has assisted 25 families across 4 local islands in the form of financial donations, food, toys & clothing donations – all thanks to our generous Indulge Maldives guests! Our fundraiser is ongoing whilst COVID-19 in Maldives. You can donate here – even $5, every little bit helps & adds up big!
GOALS FOR MALDIVES RESTARTING TOURISM
Maldives registered a record breaking 1.7 million tourist arrivals in 2019, the highest number of tourists to have visited Maldives in one year. H. E. President Solih has announced a target of 850,000 visitors by the end of 2020.
USEFUL RESOURCES FOR COVID-19 MALDIVES:
MINISTRY OF TOURISM – COVID-19 updates in Maldives:
VISIT MALDIVES – official website
MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS – COVID-19 updates
MINISTRY OF HEALTH – COVID-19 updates