For many countries, the pressure on governments to reopen their borders, societies and economies is intense: many are desperate to get back to work and re-establish some normality in their lives.
The main pre-requisite for opening the border will be that the government should have a credible strategy in place for proper screening at the airports and how to deal with positive cases when they encounter one, because they surely will. Putting entire islands under quarantine for weeks and trapping guests there will not be a solution. There has to be a strategy which builds confidence amongst the guests that Maldives is a safe destination, and that if something does happen, they will be looked after well. Just opening a small airport, ad hoc, for the sake of a few billionaires is not the solution. The government should focus on finding a solution quickly for the entire industry. We cannot afford to turn tourism off for the next 12 months.
The biggest driver will be the willingness of the source countries to allow their citizens to travel and return without having to go into quarantine back home. Giving confidence to those countries that Maldives has the situation under control is key. A proper Government-to-Government dialogue with the key source market is a pre-requisite.
When tourism returns, people’s choice of destination will be driven by safety and hygiene, rather than who has the cheapest price. The industry must coordinate to avoid a race to the bottom and we should stagger the openings so that the full inventory doesn’t come to the market at the same time. For this to happen the government needs to find a solution for those resorts and their staff who would delay their reopening.