The Maldives reopened this week with many resorts also opening their doors to overseas guests.
There has been much to-ing and fro-ing by the government as to how the reopening would work, but the final cut has meant tourists not having to supply a negative test result and no testing at the airport.
All resorts, liveaboards and hotels on uninhabited islands were allowed to open from July 15. Hotels and guest houses on inhabited islands can open from August 1.
However, some resorts have chosen to remain closed due to the ongoing pandemic in the rest of the world and limited flight connections.
For tourists that do opt to visit, there are to be no multiple location stays and the entire holiday must be booked with one registered establishment.
On arrival at the airport, a completed health declaration must be submitted, but no negative PCR or antibody test is required. Arrivals must wear masks at the airport and undergo thermal screening. They will then be issued with a free, 30-day visa. All foreign tourists will be ‘encouraged’ to install TraceEkee, a trace and contact app.
Some resorts have implemented their own covid-19 regulations; it's recommended to check individual requirements on booking. Luxury hospitality group Soneva will be implementing a test-on-arrival policy with a further test on day five of the stay. Guests will initally be greeted by a Mr/Mrs Friday host at the resort's jetty who will escort them to their villa. They will then be expected to isolate in their accommodation until the test results are received, a process that could take up to 24 hours. All guests will receive a credit voucher for in-room dining during this time.
If a result returns positive, the guest and their travel group must remain isolated in their villa. The resort will waive the room rate for 14 days and guests will only be expected to pay for meals during this period.
“The key is to be able to create a coronavirus-free environment,” said Soneva founder and chief executive officer Sonu Shivdasani.
Other resorts, such as Kurumba Maldives, have opted to remain shuttered. "Due to the many challenges we face at the moment with regards to the safety of our guests and team members, along with the flight connectivity to the Maldives, and travel advisories from around the world, we have had to reach the difficult decision to reschedule our opening date to October 1," said the resort in a statement on its website.
Flights into Male’s Velana International Airport remain limited and for Asia-based tourists involve transiting through the Middle East. Emirates is offering a five-times-a-week service from Dubai and Etihad will be starting twice-weekly flights from Abu Dhabi on July 18. Qatar Airways has been operating daily flights from Doha since July 5.
Private jets and yachts have been able to access the Maldives since June 1.