Maldives to reopen for tourists in July, no additional fees

Tourists disembark a plane at the Velana International Airport (File Photo/Sun)

Tourism Ministry, on Saturday, announced Maldives is planning to reopen its borders to tourists in July, and that no additional fees will be imposed to enter the country.

The Tourism Ministry made the announcement in a short statement on Saturday evening.

“The Maldives looks forward to welcome you back to the sunny side of life! We are planning to reopen our borders for visitors in July 2020,” reads the statement. “We also want to assure our guests they will not be charged any additional fees to enter the Maldives.”

Tourism Minister Ali Waheed stated at a press conference at the National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) that the Maldives will reopen its borders for tourists in phases.

The Tourism Ministry has also drafted a guideline to practice safe tourism, and shared it with industry stakeholders for input.

While the draft guideline had initially proposed charging additional fees on tourists in phase one, Ali Waheed later announced that the guideline had since been revised and that no additional fees will be charged on tourists.

The deadline to send in amendments to the guideline has closed, and Ali Waheed has stated that the guideline will be finalized and released to the public before June.

Maldives with its limited natural resources is heavily dependent on tourism as a source of income. The coronavirus pandemic has hit the country’s economic hard, resulting in a rise in unemployment, a severe depletion of the State’s income sources - casting a shadow over previously positive economic forecasts.

Maldives identified its first coronavirus case on March 7, and declared a state of public health emergency over the pandemic four days later on March 11. It ceased the issuance of on-arrival visas and closed its borders on March 27.

While coronavirus cases had initially been restricted to resorts and safaris, and later quarantine facilities holding inbound travelers, Male’ City identified its first coronavirus case on April 15, prompting a city-wide lockdown and a nationwide ban on nonessential travel.

The populous capital has since become the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the country, contributing to over 1,500 of the country’s 1,633 cases.

While coronavirus cases have increased to 1,633, 242 patients have recovered and five have died from complications.