CNN: The Maldives is reopening to visitors but while anyone with a super yacht or private jet can already head to the Indian Ocean destination, normal travellers will have to wait a few more weeks.
And there’s a few things they’ll need to do before they can set off.
The tourism board for the island nation, which closed its borders in March, has announced a phased reopening that expects incoming flights to its main international airport to recommence next month.
“We are planning to reopen our borders for visitors in July 2020,” read an official statement issued by the Tourism Ministry on May 30.
The statement went on to stress that guests would not be charged any additional fees, referencing an earlier version of the proposal that suggested extra tourist visa charges and landing fees. The Maldives has recorded nearly 2,000 confirmed cases and five deaths from COVID-19 so far.
While the country has been shut to international tourists since recording its first cases, around 30 resorts have stayed open, with guests choosing to self-isolate here rather than return home. Officials previously suggested the popular honeymoon destination would reopen towards the end of the year but this has been brought forward.
To ensure safety, the government says it is issuing a “Safe Tourism License” to accredit tourist facilities that abide by government legislation and specific safety requirements like having a certified medic on call and holding an “adequate stock” of personal protection equipment.
According to the proposal, incoming travellers will need to have a confirmed booking with a tourist facility that has a license.
However, the finer details are subject to change.
Travellers will also need to take steps. They’ll be required to present a medical certificate confirming proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken at least 14 days before they arrive.
In a statement issued last month, Ali Waheed, the country’s minister for tourism, described the impact of the coronavirus pandemic as “more devastating than the 2004 tsunami and the 2008 global financial crisis”.“For the first time in 47 years of tourism in the Maldives, we have experienced zero tourist arrival since this March,” before adding, “we cannot keep our borders closed for long”.
The Maldives welcomed more than 1.7 million visitors in 2019 and officials had been expecting numbers to rise to two million this year.