Tourism Minister: Borders will remain open, tourism will go on

Tourism Minister Dr. Abdulla Mausoom in an exclusive interview to Sun on September 17, 2020. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

Tourism Minister Dr. Abdulla Mausoom has dismissed rumors that the Maldives could once again close its borders in light of the increase in COVID-19 cases. 

The Minister said that COVID-19 was not an obstruction to tourism. Speaking with Sun, the Minister said that the vaccination drive in the Maldives was a new hope and would increase the faith of tourists in the nation.

Calls have been ringing in the Maldives to close down the borders and increase preventive measures in light of the increase in cases. 

However, the Minister confirmed that the situation did not warrant a border closure. Health authorities also reminded that the borders had remained open when the Maldives experienced a second wave of the virus in August. Cases had been controlled by taking measures that were not disruptive to public life and the borders had remained open even then. 

Minister Mausoom said that international tourism organizations such as IATA, UNWTO, and ICAO all believed that tourism could go on in light of the vaccination efforts. 

The Minister said that the Maldives could be one of the first nations to gain herd immunity with the vaccine drive. 

“Maldives was the nation which operated tourism the best even during the pandemic. God willing, the Maldives will become the first safe destination with the vaccine,”

“(During the virus) Compared with then the resorts recommenced operations, they are also very familiar. Health industry workers are more capable. Safari, guesthouse,s and resorts are also familiar with guidelines. They clearly know what to do.” Said the Minister. 

Exit screen tests for tourists departing from the Maldives are also lower than ever, noted the Minister. 

“Looking at December, positive cases from tourists stand at 0.07 percent. That is seven positive cases from every one thousand. In January, the positive percent was 0.08. That is eight out of one thousand.” Said the Minister. 

In December the Maldives saw more than 96,000 tourists while in January around 92,000 tourists were recorded. The Minister noted that the figures were extremely hopeful for the nation. 

“When we reopened the borders in July, the picture was unclear. In June-July, we can break the records of 2019.” Said the Minister full of hope. 

He did, however, express concern that the caseload from the capital city was on the rise and reminded that safety for citizens was by reducing the numbers. 

“Maldivians reduced numbers previously by obeying the guidelines. The figures can still be reduced by obeying the guidelines and cooperating. Tourism has the guarantee, we came this far with the determination and courage of the industry and health professionals.” Said the Minister.