Armed with vaccines, Maldives ups tourist arrival projection to 1.5 million

Tourists at the Velana International Airport. (Sun Photo/Ibrahim Ifaz)

Garnering hope from the early arrival of COVID-19 vaccines, Maldives has upped projected tourist arrivals this year to 1.5 million.

Speaking during a ministerial questioning session at the Parliament on Wednesday morning, Tourism Minister Dr. Abdulla Mausoom said the government previously projected the arrival of 1 million tourists this year, but has revised the number to 1.5 million tourist arrivals after receiving vaccines earlier than they expected.

“The number has been revised as we received vaccines earlier than we had hoped for. We now project 1.5 million tourist arrivals to Maldives by the end of this year,” he said.

Tourism Minister Dr. Abdulla Mausoom at the Parliament. (Photo/People's Majlis)

Mausoom said the government is also considering counting bed nights instead of arrivals this year, as bed nights are directly linked with tourism income.

“We therefore project 10 million bed nights this year,” he said.

Mausoom said that though the Maldives expects higher tourist arrivals this year than previously projected, arrivals in January and February have fallen below projected levels due to travel restrictions in Europe with a resurgence of COVID-19 infections.

Maldives began mass vaccinations against the COVID-19 on February 1. 

The country received a donation of 100,000 doses of the Covishield developed AstraZeneca and Oxford in January and has ordered 700,000 more doses of the same vaccine – which they expect to receive in March. Meanwhile, China also donated 100,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine – which have yet to arrive in Maldives. The donation follows 5,000 doses of the same vaccine donated by well-wishers from China.

Maldives also expects to receive the first shipment of vaccines from World Health Organization (WHO) this February.

16,251 people have been administered the first dose of Covishield under the vaccination program.