By Vishakha Talreja,
Maldives which emerged as the most popular international tourist destination amid pandemic reopened for Indians after two months, on 15th July. Resorts and travel agents have seen an uptick in demand, as queries pour in for travel to the gorgeous islands.
In May, Maldives suspended entry of South Asian travellers, including Indians when the second wave hit. It has now reopened and visa-on-arrival is issued to tourists on producing a negative RT-PCR test report, including for those who have received both doses of the Covid vaccine. Along with confirmed resort booking, travel insurance is mandatory to carry. Before embarking on your Maldives trip you also need to fill a form on the Maldives government’s Immigration website. Tourists also need a negative RT-PCR report before boarding the return flight to India.
While it might be early days for bookings, queries have started inundating resorts, which have opened up adhering to all guidelines stipulated by the Maldivian government pertaining to inbound foreign travel.
“There is a lot of traffic on the Kandima website from India, and these are enquiries that are being planned for August. Indian travellers are increasingly seeking more information and are inquisitive to know about safety standards, flexible cancellation policies etc. Going by the trend, specifically looking at the pent-up demand for couples and honeymooners, we feel that the first drivers of leisure travel to the Maldives would be this segment. Having said that, a large number of family trips are also anticipated soon,” says Neeraj Seth, Director of Marketing Communication & Public Relations, Kandima Maldives. Kandima Maldives is a 3km long resort island located at Dhaalu Atoll of Maldives. “The entire staff of Kandima Maldives is fully vaccinated,” adds Seth. The resort also has an RT-PCR testing facility and a medical clinic that has doctors round the clock.
Maldivian resorts have been a popular choice for travelers, especially honeymooners, amid the global pandemic because of Maldives unique ‘one island one resort’ concept.
“India has emerged as one of the top source markets for tourist arrivals in the Maldives in 2021. Our guests from India play an extremely important role in the growth of the Maldives tourism industry given the proximity of both nations, not only geographically, but also in terms of friendly policies and diplomatic relations supported by both the Maldivian and Indian governments. We anticipate good demand not only from new customers but also repeat guests to the Maldives. We have already started receiving a lot of queries from families and honeymoon couples,” says Ms Edyta Peszko Director of Sales and Marketing, Seaside Finolhu Maldives. The resort located at Baa Hotels is a luxury resort island with 125 villas.
Even though Indians are excited about the reopening of Maldives, the actual surge in numbers will be witnessed only from next month as these are early days.
“The response is good from the market but actual tourist numbers will increase from August. Flight connectivity is limited this month but in August there will be more flight options from Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. People are also waiting for feedback from those who would be traveling this month,” says Nitesh Gupta, Holiday Head, EaseMyTrip.
If you are planning your trip to Maldives choose a resort island that follows all Covid protocols, has its staff fully vaccinated and ensures that there is a medical facility at the resort that can handle emergencies. Though air options right now are limited, choose an airline or a booking portal that doesn’t charge a hefty fee for rescheduling.
While the resorts are open, tourists may be accommodated in guesthouses at local islands only after July 30, 2021.
(The author is a Delhi-based travel, food and lifestyle writer. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)