The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the Maldivian tourism industry hard. Tens of thousands of bookings have been cancelled. The once vibrant resorts have turned to ghost towns. Resort workers have been laid off, forced to take no-pay leave, or forced to accept pay cuts.
However, the multiple government agencies and health professionals across the nation stretched thin to prevent and contain a potential outbreak of the virus in Maldives have received overwhelming support from the tourism industry. Resort operators are offering their luxury properties, which have been temporarily closed due to the pandemic or other reasons, to the government to use as quarantine facilities free of charge, as a public service in this time of crisis.
The Director General of Public Health, Maimoona Aboobakuru, on Saturday, ordered that all inbound air passengers to Maldives, with the exception of tourists who have made bookings at resorts, be placed under 14-day quarantine at facilities designated by the government.
The move marks an increase in the government’s efforts to keep possible infected persons as far away from the general population as possible in order to reduce the risk of a local outbreak and maintain the hard-fought low virus numbers.
It also created the need for more quarantine facilities.
This need is being fulfilled with the assistance of the tourism industry.
11 tourist properties have now been offered up for use as quarantine facilities.
Tourism Minister Ali Waheed announced this Sunday that it constituted 1,158 rooms (2,288 beds).
The 11 tourist properties are:
Ali Waheed told Sun that securing over 2,000 beds to quarantine patients was a remarkable accomplishment, and that he received overwhelming support from the tourism industry.
“They released the islands to us without rent or any other fee. This is a great accomplishment, at the initiative of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and the government,” said Ali Waheed.
He added that the Tourism Ministry had assigned focal points to each resort quarantine facilities, and that families and loved ones of those in the facilities could contact them directly.
“We want to provide the best service possible to the people quarantined. The resorts where they are being quarantined now will have staff. They are always ready to serve,” said Ali Waheed.
13 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Maldives, all of whom are foreign nationals who were either working or vacationing in resorts or safaris. Of the 13 people, five were from Kuredu Island Resort, two from Sandies Bathala, two from Kuramathi Island Resort, two from Anantara Dhigu, and two from Island Safari-1.
Three have since recovered, but continue to be closely monitored at isolation facilities.