South Asia Monitor/NITN | @notintownlive | 30 Jun 2021, 04:30 am
The Maldives is to resume visa on arrival for tourists from South Asian countries--its largest market, particularly India-- from 15 July as Covid-19 caseload reduces significantly. Tourists will still be required to present a negative RT-PCR test result.
Early in May, the Maldives banned tourists from South Asian countries, when the Covid-19 spread surged in the region, especially in India. The two-month-long ban hit the archipelago’s tourism industry, bringing down its average daily footfall to almost 50 percent.
The ban came as the concern about the fast-spreading Delta variant, responsible for India’s monstrous Covid surge, started emerging in other countries in the region.
Prior to the ban, in the first three months of the year, the average daily tourist arrival was 3200, which came down to around 1700 in May and June. Overall, India has remained the biggest market for Maldives tourism following the Covid-19 pandemic and has played a crucial role in its recovery.
Currently, following the ban, Russia is at the top of its tourist market. And, a total of 30 international airlines are currently operating in the country, with numbers still growing.
Furthermore, the archipelago since the last year has taken several innovative steps to sustain its tourism amid the pandemic and promoted itself as a safe and luxurious travel destination. In 2020, it was awarded the world’s leading travel destination.
For 2021, the country has set a target of 1.5 million tourists. So far, over 500,000 tourists visited the country this year.
The industry is the backbone of the Maldives’ economy, contributing more than 70 percent of its revenue.
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