Maldives Considers Shocking Tourist Entry Requirements

Filed Under: Travel

Update: It looks like the Maldives has a new plan for welcoming tourists, which involves few restrictions.

Countries are taking all kinds of different approaches to welcoming back tourists. Looking at the various plans gives us a good sense of what to expect in the future, as tourism returns on a broader scale.

Some countries are reopening soon but confining people to hotels, some countries are reopening soon and testing people on arrival, while some countries may not reopen until 2021.

Well, it seems we now have a sense of what a Maldives reopening may look like, and it’s unlike anything we’ve otherwise seen…

Maldives may reopen to tourists on July 1

Let me start by saying that I haven’t found any official mention of this on the country’s website, but rather I’m going off a story from The Telegraph, which uses Ali Wahed, the Minister of Tourism of the Maldives, as a source. He has outlined a plan to welcome back tourists as of July 1, 2020, when commercial flights to the country are scheduled to resume.

The Maldives is heavily dependent on tourism, which makes up 28% of the country’s GDP, as the country saw more than 1.7 million visitors last year.

Wahed’s goal is to make the Maldives a safe tourist destination and a country without COVID-19. The country has so far recorded five deaths and under 1,500 cases.

Park Hyatt Maldives

The Maldives’ unprecedented restrictions

The Maldives has presented what’s perhaps the most comprehensive and arguably over-the-top plan to ensure “safe” tourism. I think this plan makes tourism to the Maldives incredibly safe, but the question is whether the restrictions are so severe as to prevent most people from wanting to visit.

With this proposed plan, what restrictions would visitors to the Maldives face?

  • Travelers would have to apply for a tourist visa in advance, at a cost of $100 (previously many countries didn’t require any visas)
  • 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

Are these restrictions appropriate, or over the top?

Bottom line

The plan outlined above by the Maldives is unlike anything we’ve seen from any other country. Personally I think it’s highly likely this won’t be implemented quite in this way, because I think this is enough to keep away most tourists.

The testing both before and after arrival are inconvenient though totally reasonable, and I respect that policy. The thing that gets me is the 14 night minimum stay. Many people can’t take that much time off, and even those that can may not want to spend 14 nights in the Maldives, since that’s a very long time.

This is truly the most comprehensive plan we’ve seen from any country, perhaps to a fault. These precautions make it highly likely that no one will get COVID-19 on the flight to the Maldives, won’t have it when they’re there, and won’t have it when they leave.

I’ll be curious to see what plan the Maldives officially rolls out, because this seems unlikely to achieve their goal of welcoming back a sizable number of visitors.

What do you make of this proposed plan from the Maldives?

  1. The major miss here seems to be that the majority of travelers would need to connect, therefore will be potentially surrounded by people with the virus, get exposed, and still test negative because by the time they arrive to Male they will not have enough virus in their body to be detectable by the antigen test.

    It’s also unclear what the 14 day minimum stay is supposed to provide in terms of protection? If you develop symptoms while there they won’t allow you to leave?

    Seems like the best way for them to be a safe as possible is to only accept visitors who have tested positive for the antibodies…

  2. Honestly it is just the 14 day stay that seems pretty excessive. $200 of new fees is a drop in the bucket in the scheme of Maldives vacations. At this point testing is widespread enough that the requirement to submit test results a week in advance doesn’t seem like a that big of a hurdle.

    But who the heck wants to go to the Maldives for 14 days. Too much of a good thing.

  3. Overrated, Overpriced destination with little to offer unless you are married with kids or retired.

    Japan is 100 times better for the successful and enterprising international bachelor.

  4. Agreed that 14 days is too much and they should remove that, but the rest of it doesn’t seem excessive.

    This is a small island nation, with pretty limited hospital capacity. There is no way they can handle a surge of COVID hospitalizations, so the best way to handle is to make sure cases don’t get there. $200 for the visa/tests is nothing compared to the cost of going there in the first place.

  5. As idyllic as the Maldives may be, I highly doubt there will be nearly enough people willing or able to stay 14 nights there. Even with all the activities that a resort may offer, I couldn’t imagine staying there for any more than a full week (at the end of the day it’s just beaches, not much more in terms of nature).

  6. All these super restrictive requirements are purely BS, specially in countries that are heavily tourism dependents, like the Maldives. How many people go there for 2 weeks? Like someone said above, as nice as it is beach wise, there’s absolutely nothing else to do, so I don’t think a lot of people stay there for 2 weeks.

  7. Why is this shocking ? What’s the big deal? No quarantine … they want to see you don’t have COViD19 and want to test one more tome when you get there. If we all just do what they want without the over reactions we can move along.

  8. I would go broke staying in a resort for 14 days. Not to mention visiting the Maldives is like dating a girl just for her looks. At first you’ll be excited at the beauty then you loose interest. So 14 days you’ll be soo bored.

  9. None of this is surprising – if you don’t want to deal with restrictions, don’t travel internationally for the next few months at least. Wait until the fall; these restrictions will likely gradually be released. In the meantime travel domestically. It really is that simple.

  10. Simple- They just try to get the $100 visa fee from people who do not read carefully. Be ware of those countries. Let’s see if Maldives needs tourists or tourists need to go to Maldives. By the way, once everything is safe and back to normal, Da Nang, Nha Trang or Ha Long in Vietnam; Phuket in Thailand.. are to consider.

  11. I was seriously thinking going over Thanksgiving week, but the 14-day minimum nixed it for me…hopefully they will relax that requirement.

  12. I honestly wouldn’t mind testing and a short confinement on arrival, and submitting test results in advance is super easy as long as it can be done online. I live in NYC, and I can walk to the urgent care a few blocks away and get tested for free in 5 minutes. (I’ve done it for the antibody test, and I will again this weekend, as I’m traveling in a week.)

    The onerous bits to me are the visa application and fees. Last visa I applied for was mainland China, and that was a pain. The consulate here was crowded, and it took hours of waiting in line just to submit the paperwork and surrender my passport. That might make me pick a different destination. There are plenty of tropical islands, so unless I had a specific reason to visit the Maldives…

  13. As others have said, the requirement for a 14-day minimum stay is pretty much a total economic disaster waiting to happen. I can’t imagine they will seriously go ahead with the policy but we should presumably expect some islands to be sold to China next year for use as a military base to raise some cash if they do.

  14. Book a 14 day-stay as multiple periods and at different resorts, ie 7+7 or 5+9? Would it be allowed? That could circumvent the 14-day rule.

  15. Given the restrictions, perhaps we’ll see some attractively-priced 14-day packages from hotels. With many now able to work remotely, it could be positioned as an opportunity to do so from the Maldives instead of from a cramped NYC or SF apartment surrounded by shuttered businesses.

  16. I should imagine that 14 days would be a fairly typical holiday time for most people from outside the USA. They seem quite sensible restrictions to me – certainly better than the USA’s which are broadly “you can’t come here”

  17. @R B

    Their 14 day rule is to force a quarantine. Since Maldives is made of tiny islands which usually have a resort each, you will be basically stuck in the same place, so it works as quarantine in practice.

  18. Agree with 14 days being way too much time to spend there (not to mention the cost at $500-$1500/night (or more) + transfers being beyond what most people could cover). My visit years ago was for four days, which satisfied me completely; I couldn’t have imagined being there longer than that.

  19. still on the (bucket) list, Cannot afford 14 days hotel/food and so on. testing not really a issue

  20. Agree with everyone that stated the 14 day requirement is the excessive part. I would though have a concern with the airfare booking if something showed on the test a week before arrival. So even if no minimum stay I would be hesitant to book unless I knew I could self-quarantine prior to that test.

  21. It will probably end up 14 days for countries that the virus running wild but they still like to see the money from (ie.USA, Brazil, Russia). They will not impose this on the Chinese who own the country anyway.

  22. For a place that is 100% a leisure destination, meaning no one HAS to go there, they need to make it easier to come and not more difficult, if they want to recover any time soon. The outlined plan is certainly fine from a public health standpoint but a nonstarter from a tourism standpoint, so I guess it just depends on what their objective is – health or tourism – and I assume they are more eager to get their tourism back up and running.

  23. I’m supposed to be going in August for my honeymoon.

    There is no way this plan goes live as mentioned so far. The Maldives are 99% reliant on tourism (probably hyperbole), it’s not like anywhere else really. No one would go.

    And people are saying “what’s another $200” – well, it’s 200 per person, so at least 400, and more if you have a family.

    I fully expect a 180 within the next 5-7 days on this policy.

  24. @ real omega male
    i doubt you even have a passport so STFU , everything you post just makes you sound a total tool

  25. Funnily this was my plan, spending 14 days in the maldives from europe prior to going back to the us – since they still require 14 days outside of europe. So in some ways i would be in.

  26. When rising oceans submerged the repressive, rabidly anti-gay Maldives I certainly won’t be shedding a tear. There are just so many other, nicer – and much cheaper! – places to enjoy beautiful beaches.

  27. The excessive part is being tested on arrival. What happens if you pass the test(s) before you get in a plane and the results are different when you arrive in the Maldives? Flying to the Maldives can take well over a day depending on your flights and is very expensive. If you fail the test, will you be forced to buy a very expensive last minute flight and have to fly back the next day without even setting foot on a beach? I doubt the resort will offer you a refund either. Who would want to take that chance?

  28. 5 days in the Maldives would be my limit. Not only it is way expensive but that is more than enough for me to be isolated in an island. No tks. They will kill the country.

  29. These restrictions (aside from the 14 day requirement) seem reasonable however, as with any other travel calculation, you have to ask yourself if you would feel safe if you were to contract COVID 19 while in the Maldives? Regardless of any testing and safety measures they put in place, there are no guarantees that you will not draw the unlucky number and get sick. Even a mild case could cause you a lot of mental distress knowing your options for world class medical treatment could be quite limited or worse, completely out of reach. The islands will always be there after an effective vaccine is available or herd immunity reached. In the meantime, I’d pass.

  30. I was booked to go in June. Booked airline and hotel on points. No way I would go for 14 days. I would go insane.

  31. In other news, On July 10, domestic violence and suicide from tourists jump 1000%. Sales of narcotics and alcohol rise 300000%.
    Some resorts offer a secret amenity to ‘smuggle’ you out before 14 days for an extra $5000.

    Visa fee becomes permanent. Maldives will also start charging vacation fees of $200 for stays longer than 7 days.

    Now let’s go to Bora Bora instead.

  32. Well, I do have enough points for 12 nights W.A and 5 nights St. Regis. Would probably only do 5 nights in W.A and another 5 at Conrad though.

    LOL at people who’ve never been there talking about overpriced. A: use points, ain’t overpriced. B: No. Spent 10 nights there 4 years ago and easily could’ve done another 5-7.
    Double LOL at the guy complaining it’s no good for Bachelors— what, were you hoping to meet women there or something? And you made it all the way there before figuring out that’s not the place to do it?

    Seriously, some people have been to Cancun and think that’s a pinnacle of some kind.

  33. Guantanamo Bay is closer, all inclusive, perhaps a little more restrictive and usually a longer stay, but no account to settle on checkout. Many of the guests already there will have been accustomed to wearing face coverings in the course of their prior activities, so will contribute to the culture of safety and security.

  34. Their country. Their rules. Simple as that.
    They don’t have First World infrastructure to deal with an outbreak.
    You’ll see similar requirements just to enter Hawaii…and I suspect every other country, although a little less draconian.

  35. Two requirements don’t make sense: the visa application and 14-day stay.

    visa – how does this improve safety? I assume you apply for the visa before you take the test one week before your trip?
    14 day – if you don’t have the virus, why does it matter how long you stay? if you have the virus, isn’t the longer the stay the more harmful you are? Maybe they’re adding this requirement to purposely cut down on the # of visitors to the country?

    Also, I’m surprised that tourism is only 28% of GDP. I’d have expected 90%.

  36. “These precautions make it highly likely that no one will get COVID-19 on the flight to the Maldives, won’t have it when they’re there, and won’t have it when they leave.”

    And yet you don’t think that’s a selling point? “Maldives — safest place on Earth!”

  37. Actually, requirements are much better than going to Hawaii. Hawaii is making U.S. citizens quarantine for 14 days in a hotel room on an approved accommodation list, with a one-way, one-use access card. Can’t leave your room, outside food delivery only, no room cleaning, no access to amenities, literally cannot leave your room for two weeks if the hotel cooperates with the state’s requested one time access policy. If you have a balcony or lanai, you can sit on it.
    Maybe. There’s been reports of certain hotels having problems with that. None of this applies to Hawaii residents of course. Hawaii residents can leave Hawaii, travel about the US to their vacations, return, and go into “quarantine – light’ in their own homes for 14 days. And, oh yes, while Hawaii is keeping Americans out of America, they’re in parallel looking for ways to open up non-quarantine stays to foreign travelers. Maldives looks real good, comparatively.

  38. Just cancelled my June trip to Norway, have a 7 night stay coming up in Nov at Maldives. If any change this new rule comes into effect, oh well no more travel for me in 2020 lol..

  39. Agreed on the 14 nights. It will keep me away. But the rest seems reasonable. Hopefully they do away with the minimum stay.

  40. This all seems pretty sensible, even the 14 day requirement. It means if you have to be quarantined then you have a place to do it. Not my cup of tea but I can see plenty of people wanting to jump through those hoops for a beach holiday.

  41. This is nothing. Try getting a tourist visa to almost any country with a Sri Lankan passport even in normal times. Massive visa fees (hundreds of dollars), forms and documentation (employment certificates, pay slips, proof of assets, hotel bookings, travel insurance, previous travel records blah blah blah often running into about 50 pages of documents for a UK visa), several weeks of a wait and after all that most visas are rejected. It really sucks.

  42. Whats so “shocking” about it. Nowhere in your article have you mentioned the “shocking” reqwuirements.
    Is this clickbait? All signs point to yes!
    For someone who brags about spending 50 hours in Emirates FC by only spending USD 5000, I am sure you can afford to spend 14 nights in the Maldives.

  43. I think these are not unreasonable in the short term, except for one – the 14-day requirement. I concur with what seems to be balance of opinion here – it would be enough to deter me from travelling (I usually take 3-4 long haul trips, but of a week each).

  44. The pre arranged visa thing is stupid. Have them submit test results online or tell airlines to deny boarding if no test results. I don’t get the 14 day minimum stay req, the Maldives is expensive if you go to resorts so most ppl are just doing 3-5 nights. A PCR test shldnt cost $100, they shldnt be trying to make a profit off this.

    If anything the Maldives should be the number 1 country for dealing with Corona tourism, its just a bunch of islands. You can easily just say ppl fly in, go by boat direct to their island resort and then fly out. Segregate the airport so they dont expose themselves to any local.

  45. “The testing both before and after arrival are inconvenient though totally reasonable, and I respect that policy. ”
    Sorry Lucky but this is where you are wrong!
    Considering all the false positives and all the false negatives (and they are quite high for this virus), testing everyone would be hardly effective and would spread a false sense of security among the “insiders”. It just reminds me of the crap we were used to hear about testing everybody for HIV then isolate those HIV-seropositive and all the HIV-seronegative people would be safe…Will the world never learns from its past mistakes???

  46. Darn. Was planning an n’th 10 night return in January to the Conrad Rangali. I suppose I might be able to scrounge up the necessary points for 15 days but the real problem is the Visa and the Corona test. Living in BC it is not possible to get a test unless symptomatic. Now if I lived in Ontario instead …. but I don’t and really really do not want to pass through Pearson Airport again (home of the Covid infestation).

    Maybe a remote location in Mexico (if AS starts flying again) but then I’d have to pass through SEA.

    This winter is going to be a drag.

    Hopefully the visa and tourist charges either disappear entirely or somehow get bundled into the airfare or hotel pricing. (When we buy airfare with all the taxes included we see them as inevitable but when we have to pay extra at the airport it becomes an annoying rip off)

  47. I think I have to change my name to “moderated again and I didn’t even cuss”.

    My Rangali Island note may appear soon ;-(

  48. Firs of all, this information is not correctly presented here. Secondly this information source is a draft document circulated among tourism entrepreneurs for their idea and input. A draft document means its not finalized and not going to be implemented.

    Latest update is with input from professionals in this industry the fees and restrictions are not going to be practiced as mentioned by onemileatatime. You guys better remove this article as this is false information and diminishing tourists interest in Maldives.

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