Maldives To Welcome Visitors As Of July 15 With Few Restrictions

Filed Under: Travel

We’re seeing countries around the world announce new entry requirements, and in many cases these are evolving by the day. The Maldives has today shared the exact date when they’ll again welcome tourists, with limited restrictions on visitors.

The Maldives’ initial plan for welcoming visitors

Several weeks ago I wrote about how the Maldives was considering some of the most extreme entry requirements we’ve seen from any country looking to allow tourists. According to a draft proposal shared by the Minister of Tourism of the Maldives, the country would welcome tourists as of July, with the following restrictions:

  • Travelers would have to apply for a tourist visa in advance, at a cost of $100
  • Visas would only be granted to those who have a confirmed booking for a minimum of 14 nights, as well as travel insurance
  • Travelers would need to submit either a negative antigen test or a positive antibody test, up to a week before arrival
  • Travelers would have to pay $100 for an additional PCR antigen test upon arrival in Male
  • Guests would need to be confined to their quarters until their test results are reported, which would take from three to 12 hours

The Maldives was going to have extreme entry requirements

The Maldives’ new plan to welcome tourists

While this plan was first shared a couple of weeks ago, no exact date was given for when the Maldives would welcome tourists. The Maldives plans to reopen to tourists as of July 15, 2020, and is arguably going from one extreme to the other. The Maldives:

Smart or irresponsible?

A lot of countries are struggling with finding the right balance between encouraging tourists to visit while still trying to minimize the spread of COVID-19 as much as possible.

The Maldives’ economy is heavily dependent upon tourism, so I’m not surprised to see the Maldives backing down from the initial plans, which would have probably deterred a vast majority of prospective visitors.

However, this new plan seems like the other extreme, in my opinion:

  • On the one hand, a vast majority of COVID-19 transmission seems to be indoors, while time in the Maldives is overwhelmingly spent outdoors; to what extent does that lower the risk?
  • That being said, not doing any sort of testing (or even requiring testing before departure) seems to me like it might be pushing it, especially when you consider the logistical challenges and limited capacity associated with medical care in the Maldives

Is the Maldives being smart or irresponsible?

Individual resorts may institute their own testing

While the country as such won’t require any sort of testing on arrival, individual resorts may. In the Maldives most resorts are on private islands, and a reader shares the pre-stay email he received from a resort for an upcoming stay. For stays at Soneva Fushi and Soneva Jani:

  • The resort will be conducting COVID-19 PCR tests for guests upon arrival at Male Airport
  • When you are transfered to the resort you’re asked to stay in your villa until the test results come back negative, which isn’t expected to take more than six hours
  • If the test comes back positive, you’ll be asked to stay in your villa for 14 days, and the rate will be waived for that entire time, though guests will have to pay for meals and other incidentals
  • Guests will have their temperature taken daily, and those staying more than a week will be asked to take a second PCR test

Bottom line

The Maldives is planning on welcoming tourists with few restrictions as of July 15, 2020. While the country as such isn’t instituting many precautions, it seems like individual resorts may.

At least some resorts will be requiring guests to get tested, will take temperatures daily, and more. I would imagine for most people the comfort level of traveling to the Maldives varies based on an individual hotel’s policy.

One major challenge with a trip to the Maldives is simply getting there, given how limited international flight schedules are at the moment, the limits on international transit at many airports, etc.

What do you make of the Maldives’ new plan for tourism? Would it make you more or less likely to visit?

Comments
  1. Not surprising. Folks working in executive marketing positions are for the most part totally dumb relying on outdated marketing techniques (hello brochures and TV ads on cable news network).

    I spoke to their tourism chief a few years ago at ITB Berlin and was appalled at how little the guy and his team knew about how to properly market and promote a destination.

    90% of the tourism chief I spoke to were equally unfit to serve their prestigious positions… Just appointed because of political connections

  2. Ben, Now may you tell people do not go to Maldives as you did to Tanzania when the government announced kinda similar plan? I see here no Testing, no quarantine ..

  3. Was booked for Maldives March 2020 which obviously was cancelled and rebooked for March 2021 in hopes covid19 will be long gone by then

  4. So now they are trying something else to hope for some kind of tourism recovery. They probably got cricket sound few weeks ago with that severe plan. When tourism accounts for 28% of your GDP (according to wiki), there are few choices that the government of Maldives has. I wouldn’t go unless you are healthy and in your 20s. Anyone with pre-existing condition such as diabetes or weight challenged should wait till there is a vaccine before venturing to a country that’s not exactly known for having first world healthcare infrastructure.

  5. Ben, I’m supposed to transit through CMB en route to MLE in August for my honeymoon.

    I haven’t been able to clarify about restrictions that Sri Lanka put into place recently about transit passengers. Do you have any insight on what it looks like for connecting passengers in CMB who won’t be entering the country?

  6. I’m supposed to be there in 2 weeks time. C’est la vie. Cant leave the country anyway. At least I have a job!

  7. Money talks.

    It’ll be a lovely place to catch the virus and die. I suppose there are worse places to spend your last days on Earth.

  8. Requiring a test result certificate before flying won’t really help. I already have a fake negative test cert template ready to go with only date update needed (just in case I need it in an emergency for some BS requirement), and I’m sure the fake certificate business will be widespread in general if it becomes a requirement.

    So the only other ways are quarantine (destroy tourism) or test on arrival (not very practical limiting numbers).

    Better to just give up the restrictions and let people take their own risks.

  9. LOL Bobo. Anyone at risk of dying from Covid isn’t in any shape to be getting on a plane, boat, seaplane and going to some remote island in the middle of nowhere.

  10. “Not requiring testing before departure”: They *are* requiring a test to be submitted.

  11. Just no joined up thinking, you would think by now there would be a set number of international standards for entering a country around the globe then each country could add its own additional requirements.

    In regards to the antibody test certification it’s not a physical piece of paper, it is a QR code and 2 part security verification using your surname and DOB which is checked against the providers central database so any person peddling “fake certificates” will come a cropper when challenged.

  12. Remember that as recently as a week and half ago, the Maldivian government had already revised their plan to drop the 14 day stay requirement and the $100 visa fees, but the tests were still in the plan. This seems a bit too easygoing…. especially given the difficulties if one contracts COVID in the Maldives and their light hospital infrastructure.

    I wish Zach Honig had referenced a source. He links a Tweet that doesn’t say anything specific and no other source. I believe him, but I do find this new very surprising and I have an email into my contact within their government to see if I can get confirmation.

  13. I’m not sure what everyone is worried about if you’re a tourist. Assuming you don’t have it when you leave to go there you’re unlikely to get very sick while you’re still there unless you’re staying more than a week. You could pass it to a local, but would you even test positive if you got it in transit anyway?

  14. Regardless of when and how the Maldives opens to tourism, YOU won’t be welcome, Ben. Neither will I. Nor will any other LGBT traveler.

    The Penal Code of the Maldives works with Islamic Shariah Law to punish any acts relating to homosexuality through prison sentences, fines, and lashings.

    Lashings. In 2020, for God’s sake.

    Why would you promote travel to this place?

    Is it just because the Maldives are remote and extremely expensive? Because there are plenty of beautiful beach destinations around the globe; in countries that don’t brutally punish people for who they love.

    Ben, you could have a meaningful voice with this blog. Sometimes I wish you’d look beyond the next flight in First, the next flute of Krug, and USE IT.

  15. Beating head on table. Just make up their minds. I’m ready to book for sometime this year but cant do anything until they find a plan they like.

    Plus still not saying when Americans will be allowed and emails to information ministry go unanswered.

    Who cares if its rainy season, I’ll be face down in the water anyway.

    @Colin. LOL. I’m in the high risk category but I’m not sitting at home waiting to die. I’ll be on a plane to a country witha decent reef as soon as they open.

  16. Literally no other country has tourism infrastructure as the Maldives does: a bunch of expensive remote islands that mostly already featured as much isolation from other tourists as possible and relatively few people per island (with the exception of the capital Malé, where few tourists venture)

    One could reasonably posit that the tourists going to the Maldives — with the exception of the time spent on the long-haul flights — would be among the safest traveling long-haul anywhere

    Though obviously the best course of action this summer is to NOT fly anywhere

  17. “You could pass it to a local, but would you even test positive if you got it in transit anyway?”

    Most tourists never have any contact with locals except at the international airport — most resorts are staffed by non-natives

    But yeah, a tourist who is an idiot and asymptomatic could pass it to a resort staff member

  18. “Anyone at risk of dying from Covid isn’t in any shape to be getting on a plane, boat, seaplane and going to some remote island in the middle of nowhere.”

    This comment alone shows how three months into the initial phase of COVID in western nations how low-information many people still are.

    Many people at greatest risk are still in denial of their risk

    And some at risk actually have no idea they are at risk. Ask my best friend’s co-worker’s 15-year-old daughter who never had any health issues, never smoked, and never took drugs, how she wound up in the ICU for five weeks with COVID.

  19. Maldives may not have many cases of the virus now, but they certainly will have them as soon as they open up and asymptomatic infected people flock there. Taking away the mandatory testing is a stupid move. If anything that would have been a selling point for putting people at ease.

  20. Maldivian here. It’s clear that this was a decision made out of sheer desperation and against the local Health Protection Agency’s advise. Many of our politicians who hold positions in the parliament are either resort owners or individuals who have powerful donors from the tourism industry and they’re getting restless.

    It has to be noted though, that more than 98% of the identified cases are from Male’, and about 65% of those are within the community of foreign labourers, many of whom have been living in horrendous conditions in close, tightly packed quarters.

    Our geographical makeup has been an advantage during this pandemic, especially when Male’ hit its peak earlier this month. Still, taking away mandatory testing was an unimaginablely stupid decision that’s going to bite us again in a month or two.

  21. Is TPG blacklisted on this site? Curious why you cited the author of the source instead of the site, which is what is typically expected.

  22. Apparantely they realised no one is going to come if they treat tourists like a bio hazard. This is a leisure industry, people will not pay for a miserable experience.

    There have already been a few places that aimed to promote themselves as “safe destinations” with all the rules. So far it seems this failed at each and every one of them. People who are afraid of COVID will not travel, no matter what pseudo-safety rules are in place.

    Those semi-openings some countries suggested are the worst from both worlds: You won’t get almost any tourists and yet you will be open to infection (tests are not 100%). Either accept that the virus is here to stay and open up, or remain closed to avoid any spread whatsoever.

  23. @Samo – All tourists ARE biohazards, and any reality-based government that doesn’t want the pandemic to decimate their population needs to treat them as such, until proved otherwise. Only an idiot or someone in complete denial would throw open their doors to anyone from places where the virus is spreading uncontrolled. Stop the virus from spreading at home, then we will be welcomed overseas, rather than being treated as the potentially deadly super-spreaders (which some of us absolutely would be).

    But if money is all they care about…then party on with all your Brazilian and Russian buddies.

  24. @Bobo Bolinksy – Whether all tourists are bio hazard or not, the thing is that while they are treated as such, they won’t come because i makes no sense to waste money for a miserable trip. That was my point. As I wrote, closing down forever is also an option. But if someone opens up, they should allow people to have a pretty normal experience, otherwise there’s no point in opening up.

    The best option in my opinion is to only admit people from low-risk areas but without any further restrictions. This is the model that Europe will probably go after.

  25. The main issue here is the likely lack of health care infrastructure on the island for guests or local residents/workers if things do go a bit wrong

  26. I agree that, from a health perspective, it may not be the best idea considering their healthcare infrastructure.

    However, realistically speaking, I guess most people will just avoid a tourist destination if any testing is involved. I am in Europe, where the situation is relatively good right now, and people start traveling again for leisure. But whomever I ask, they only seem to be looking for destinations where they won’t have to go through any testing or quarantine whatsoever. I guess that’s just the reality right now.

    Yet, if people keep their distance and stick to hygiene rules, they should be able to keep cases low. Low means not zero though.

  27. I wonder if requirement to stay in your villa for 14 days allows for snorkeling if you have and over-water room. If it does, then it’s not too different from what a lot of people do in the Maldives anyway.

  28. If you have the virus and your symptoms start showing up on arrival, you need real good health care which I doubt the Maldive have.

    There’s plenty of people who are waiting for lung transplants after having “survived” COVID-19, even in their 20s (https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/06/12/875486356/first-known-u-s-lung-transplant-for-covid-19-patient-performed-in-chicago)

    If you have the money to go to the Maldives, then you probably have the smarts on spending it to go somewhere safe.

  29. According to the tourism bureau it’s up to the hotels to accept infected guests and I’m willing to place my monthly income on a bet that the chances of a branded hotel allowing a corona diagnosed guest into the resort is ZERO.

    You have an official source that this stay would be free while isolated? The Sun is hardly reliable.

  30. All Marriott properties in Maldives are showing as not available until Oct 1. Likely not a good idea travel before then anyway but curious if anybody has more insight into this.

  31. @Jake, thanks for sharing. A friend of mine who performs transplant surgeries, including lungs, is aware of this case too.

    A good reminder to stay home as coronavirus affects young and old, with some terrible long-term effects.

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