Following a reopening earlier this year, this tropical paradise has successfully welcomed thousands of holidaymakers back to its sandy shores. Carolynne Dear finds out how the Maldives is making it even easier to enjoy a winter beach break.
Cast all your Covid cares away in the Maldives.
Following a successful reopening to international visitors earlier this year, the Maldives has now welcomed more than 50,000 guests to its idyllic islands.
Blessed with more than a thousand coral islands grouped into 26 atolls, the Maldives is ideally suited for social and physical distancing. Its ‘one island, one resort’ policy ensures as much privacy as guests require.
In terms of stepping up to the Covid challenge, in September the Maldives was awarded the world’s first global safety and hygiene stamp for travel and tourism, endorsed by the World Travel and Tourism Council.
The stamp is designed to address the current pandemic (and any similar outbreaks) with the objective of buoying traveller confidence.
Maldives opened its borders to all nationalities on July 15. Visitors are granted a 30-day, free, on-arrival visa with a confirmed booking for a stay at any registered tourist facility in the country.
Arrivals are required to fill-in an online health declaration form 24 hours prior to departure and present a negative Covid test taken no more than 96 hours before departure to the Maldives.
Travellers are also encouraged to install the TraceEkee app on their smartphones. The app uses bluetooth signals to trace users, quickly identify positive cases and provide guidance.
Expect postcard-perfect palm-fringed beaches and azure oceans in the Maldives.
Earlier this year guests were required to stick to just one resort for the duration of their stay in the Maldives, but the government is now allowing ‘split stays’ between all types of approved accommodation, including resorts, guest houses and ‘liveaboards’.
Requests for approval of split stays should be made to the Ministry of Tourism two days before the date of travel.
As of November, 124 of the country’s 150-plus resorts had reopened and more are scheduled to open their doors in December.
And more than 120 liveaboard, or ‘floating hotel’, vessels are now in operation.
The health and safety of visitors is of course a top priority and all guests are required to wear masks in enclosed spaces and sanitise their hands as often as possible. Physical distancing must also be maintained in all public areas of a resort.
And resorts have also been required to take measures in line with the Covid-19 safe tourism guidelines and hygiene certification programme issued by the Maldivian Ministry of Tourism in June 2020.
In a further step to reassure travellers, the country has introduced Covid-19 travel insurance, Allied Inbound, which covers medical charges, isolation facility charges, emergency medical transport charges and interment charges following a positive diagnosis. Visitors should apply for the plan 24 hours prior to their arrival in the country through Allied’s website.
The Maldives is also planning to become the first country in the world to introduce a hospitality loyalty programme.
Normally the preserve of airlines and hotel groups, The Maldives Border Miles programme will reward visitors to the stunning country with points based on their number of visits and duration of stay. It’s the first time a country has introduced such a scheme and it is set to be launched in December.
Details of The Maldives Border Miles programme have yet to be confirmed, but it’s expected that it will have three tiers, including Abbarana (Gold), Antara (Silver) and Aida (Bronze). The names originate from the local Divehi language. Privileges are awarded according to the number of points accumulated.
If you’re travelling from Asia, Singapore Airlines restarted flights to the Maldives on August 1 and Silk Air is planning to resume flights in December.
For more information about travel to the Maldives, see visitmaldives.com