Get-me-away travel is the next big thing as the world learns to live with Covid-19. With the virus here to stay, the resounding message is that life has to go on. Against this backdrop, Maldives is cementing its appeal not only as a long-held bucket list destination, but also as a safe haven for travellers longing to escape the anxieties of a Covid-struck world.
Countries are opening up, and travellers are raring to go. So, now what?
Step one: be extra selective about the destination. The last thing travellers want is to leave one crowded city for another, unable to shake the cloud of Covid looming over their heads.
This is why Maldives, unique for its one-island-one-resort model, is a wise choice and the ultimate escape. The destination is inherently safely-distanced — there 1,190 islands, and most of the nation’s resorts sit on private uninhabited islands. Resort guests stay within private island bubbles, separate from local communities and tourists in other properties.
And according to a World Bank report, 93% of all resort workers in the destination are fully vaccinated. Resorts comply with safety procedures including those that regulate staff movements between islands, while certifications are issued to uphold hygiene standards.
Now that’s out of the way, the next and biggest consideration would be travel requirements — test results, quarantine (if any), and the full works. These requirements, while necessary, can sometimes be tricky to navigate.
Thankfully in Maldives, “entry requirements are relatively straightforward” according to the World Bank.
Before you send your clients flying to island paradise, here is everything you must know.
Relatively straightforward entry requirements in Maldives. Photo Credit: Visit Maldives.
As all agents would know, planning is key to a smooth travel experience. With Covid, this has gotten even more important as documents and requests for approvals need to be submitted in advance. To avoid trip postponements and worse, a disrupted journey even before touching down, be sure that you or your clients have the following ready and submitted to the relevant channels within the required window.
Confirmed accommodation bookings
Before arriving, be sure your clients have confirmed reservations at an approved tourist establishment registered with the Ministry of Tourism.
Question: Can travellers stay at more than one property while in Maldives?
Yes, but with conditions. Split-Stays are permitted between all tourist establishments that meet compulsory requirements under the Split-Stay guideline approved by the local Health Protection Agency.
All tourists must have a negative PCR test for Covid-19 conducted 96 hours prior the scheduled departure time from the first port of embarkation enroute to Maldives.
Do submit the PCR test result through the IMUGA (Maldives immigration) portal within 24 hours prior to departure.
In addition, the traveller will have to present the lab result in paper or electronic format during the airline check-in.
If your client makes a transit during the journey, the initial PCR test will be valid as long as the transit does not exceed 24 hours. If your client makes a transit exceeding 24 hours, the passenger must repeat the PCR test within 96 hours prior to embarkation at the port of transit.
Question: Is my Covid test document valid?
To enter the Maldives, the the test document must include the following:
● Name of the passenger (as in passport)
● Name and address of the testing laboratory
● Type of test stated as a PCR test
● Date and time of sampling
Health Declaration Form
Within 24 hours prior to departure, all tourists are required to submit an online Health Declaration Form through the IMUGA portal.
Dive right in, no quarantine needed. Photo Credit: Visit Maldives.
What to expect on arrival
Travellers rejoice — there is generally no need to quarantine upon arrival in the Maldives. However, necessary measures are in place to mitigate risks. Here’s what your clients should expect.
Duration of stay
All tourists are granted a 30-day free visa upon arrival.
While tourists are not generally quarantined upon arrival, visitors are monitored for symptoms. All visitors must undergo thermal screening at the airport’s arrival terminal. In addition, visitors who have a fever, cough or shortness of breath on board their arriving flight or upon touching down should declare their symptoms and have these reported to the local Health Protection Agency.
Mask-wearing and hygiene
All tourists should wear masks and sanitise their hands. They may find stations for hand sanitisation throughout the airport.
Visitors should abide by distancing guidelines. There are visible floor markings and other information to guide safe distancing practices in all passenger terminals.
All tourists are encouraged to install the Contact Tracing app “TraceEkee”.
Safety from start to end. Photo Credit: Visit Maldives.
Before you leave paradise...
Exit screening questionnaire
Prior to departing their resort, tourists must undergo an exit screening. This is to ensure that symptomatic persons or those in quarantine do not leave the resort and travel.
The exit questionnaire should document any history of fever or respiratory symptoms such as cough or shortness of breath within the past 14 days. Guests should also expect temperature checks to exclude fever.
Routine testing for COVID-19 is not required prior to departure from a resort. However, if a guest is found to have fever or symptoms linked to Covid-19 in the past 14 days, they must undergo PCR testing.
The destination or resort representatives are also able to arrange tests for guests who require Covid-19 results to return to their origin countries or another destination.
Given the appeal and relative safety of contained, private islands, it is no wonder Maldives was one of the first destinations to re-open, and one of the few to have stayed open after more than a year. In fact, the destination is inching close to pre-pandemic performance. For the period of January to October 2021, it welcomed 992,196 visitors.
The ultimate “get-me-away” destination is calling. Now that we have a checklist of must-knows, all that’s left is for travellers to drop all worries at the door and jet off to paradise.
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This article is brought to you by Visit Maldives