The Maldives is planning to begin vaccinating tourists in an effort to boost tourism. The country wants this to be implemented in the future, the country’s tourism minister announced, providing a unique draw to a destination known for its dreamy overwater bungalows and abundant sea life.
The island paradise will implement a “3V Program” — “visit, vaccinate, and vacation” — in an effort to draw travellers back and help the nation meet its goal of seeing 1.5 million tourist arrivals this year, Minister of Tourism Abdulla Mausoom told CNBC on Wednesday. About 350,000 people have visited the Maldives so far, mainly arriving from India.
Although the timeline to vaccinate visitors wasn’t immediately clear, Mausoom said it wouldn’t start until after residents were inoculated.
“The main idea of tourism being open is to provide a reasonably safe tourism [experience] with minimum inconvenience,” Mausoom said, adding nearly 90% of tourism frontline workers have received their first dose. “So once the country gets vaccinated, then we will move on to ‘3V’ tourism.”
About 51.5% of residents have received at least one dose of a vaccine and 4.8% have been fully vaccinated till now, according to Reuters, which is tracking vaccine progress around the world.
Mausoom said the Maldives has received vaccines from India, China, and the World Health Organization’s Covax program, and has ordered more from Singapore.
“I don’t think supply is a problem in the Maldives because our population is relatively small,” he said. “The quota we get from the various organizations and friendly countries also will help.”
The Maldives first opened to tourists in July and continues to welcome visitors, including those from the United States, but requires everyone to arrive with a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 96 hours of their departure and have a confirmed hotel booking, according to the Ministry of Tourism.
While several countries have planned to welcome vaccinated visitors, the Maldives is unique in pledging to help tourists get the jab.