When the year started, the government was initially targeting to welcome at least 1 million tourists by the end of the year. During a ministerial questioning session held at the Parliament yesterday, the Minister of Tourism, Dr. Abdulla Mausoom, announced that the number has been increased to 1.5 million with the commencement of the country’s vaccination drive.
Maldives began administering COVID-19 vaccination on the 1st of February upon receiving the first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines extended by the Indian government. Over 20k people have been received their first dose of the vaccine inclusive of frontliners in the tourism industry.
During the session, the Minister also noted that discussions are ongoing to use bed nights as a key indicator of tourism rather than arrivals as the bed nights will give a better picture of the industry revenue. Hence, the target is to get 10 million bed nights by the end of the year.
Furthermore, it was said that Maldives is hoping to test the waters for vaccine tourism. The Minister highlights that vaccinating tourists will help sell tourism whilst ensuring the safety of tourism industry workers. Presently, available COVID-19 vaccines require two doses of the vaccine to be received within a 3 to 4-week interval. If tourists could stay in the Maldives during that period, it would be extremely beneficial for the industry. Nevertheless, the vaccine tourism project will be on hold until vaccine is administered to the whole population of the country.
Whilst so far in the year, the island nation has welcomed over 120k tourists, due to the lockdowns in key tourist markets, tourist arrival figures for this period is not up to expectations.