Govt. to arrange departure of tourists stranded due to travel restrictions

Tourism Minister Ali Waheed is seen speaking at a news conference on February 6, 2020. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

The government has decided to make arrangements for the departure of tourists who are stuck in the country due to the imposed travel restrictions.

The government has decided to not allow the entry of arrivals from China and anyone who had departed from China in the last 14 days.

At a news conference today, chair of the task force formed by the government regarding the Coronavirus, Tourism Minister Ali Waheed stated that the government was working on providing good hospitality to tourists even in such situations and had helped the departure of 24 tourists who were stuck in the country.

“At the expense of the government, it has hosted and arranged for the departure of eight Argentine and 16 Chinese tourists from the country. The government institutions had worked to ensure that tourists do not get stranded and have a bad experience at the airport.” said the Minister.

The Minister noted that there were a further 11 tourists stuck in the country.

“The 11 tourists stuck in the country will also depart (at the expense of the government) tonight at 23:00,” said Minister Ali Waheed.

Most tourists stranded after the direct flights to China were suspended have also departed according to the Minister, and the help desk established at the airport would conclude its services tonight. The Minister stated that officials would be available on-call basis.

Tourists pictured wearing surgical masks at Velana International Airport (VIA). (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

The government was also offering holidays on other dates for tourists whose bookings were disrupted because of the travel advisory issued by the government restricting Chinese travelers.

“For instance, we can’t allow the entry of a visitor if they had departed from Shanghai 13 days ago. But the government has offered the chance to those restricted to visit the country at a later date rather than waste their lifelong hopes of visiting the Maldives.” said the Minister.

The Minister stated that the bookings canceled can be recovered and the government’s efforts would see the country visited by 1.7 million tourists just like last year. The Minister stated that 2.7 million tourists would be the target for next year.

No one has been tested positive for the Coronavirus from the Maldives, which has been identified in more than 25 countries. More than 28,000 cases have been tested positive throughout the world. 1,286 have fully recovered from the virus while 560 have died from it.