DestinationsMaldives lifts state of emergency, removing Covid-19 test and mask mandates for international travellers.

Masks down, surf’s up in the Maldives

The Maldives targets 1.6 million international visitor arrivals in 2022.
The Maldives targets 1.6 million international visitor arrivals in 2022. Photo Credit: Gettyimages/SHansche

The Maldives has joined the growing list of countries that have eradicated all Covid-related restrictions for travellers and their people.

On 4 March, the Maldives announced that it would be removing testing requirements for fully vaccinated travellers. Previously, travellers were required to present a negative PCR test before entering the country, and had to test negative before leaving the Maldives, but all these have recently been scrapped.

Several days later, on 13 March, the country declared an end of its state of public health emergency and abolished all of its remaining Covid-19 restrictions.

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih said that despite the state of emergency being lifted, the Maldives’ authorities will still continue to monitor the Covid-19 situation and won’t hesitate to take action if there are any further developments with the virus.

Even though the mask mandate has been removed following the announcement, the authorities still recommend donning a mask in crowded areas such as gatherings and public transport systems. Wearing a mask is only made mandatory in all health facilities, regardless of the Covid-19 status, and in outbreak areas, where sample positivity is above 20%.

The Maldives’ Ministry of Tourism revealed that arrivals so far in March this year have increased by 50% compared to the arrivals recorded in the same month last year. However, it is still shadowed by the 81,000 arrivals in March 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic broke loose.

But having welcomed close to 360,000 tourists between 1 January and 16 March, the country’s decision to remove its travel restrictions will most likely further boost its tourism numbers as travel to the island paradise is made cheaper, easier, and more attractive compared to other destinations that still have testing requirements, mask mandates and other pandemic regulations in place.

Furthermore, the Maldives remains one of the last remaining countries in the world still open to Russian travellers. Russia has contributed the greatest number of arrivals to the Maldives in 2022, with close to 50,000 Russian travellers making up the total count of 360,000 tourists. The country’s other top source markets consist of the UK, India, Germany, and Italy.

It seems that with the country’s end of restrictions coupled with its multiple marketing efforts to appeal to the post-pandemic traveller and eco-conscious traveller, the Maldives looks set on the right course to achieve President Solih’s aim of welcoming 1.6 million tourists this year.

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