The Maldives will be reopening its borders for tourism on July 15. Once tourists start to flock, how will the sector adapt to the pandemic in terms of products offered, travel and accommodation? And do you think the sector is psychologically ready?

PUBLISHED July 10, 2020

Mohamed Ali
Vice President
Association of Travel Agents (ATA Maldives)
It is my opinion that the biggest challenge would be physiological in nature. It will take a while to adapt to this new normal. Except for the physical features, everything related to products offered, travel and accommodation would be different. Beach activities involving family members or those traveling in groups should not have any restrictions on beach activities. Overall, it will take a while to get adjusted to the new normal.
Well, in terms of how the sector will adapt to the pandemic, my opinion is that even in the tourism sector, it won’t be much different than other sectors. Most of the activities and processes will happen with the pandemic in mind. Which means more than normal cleansing measures, adequate physical distancing measures and less of large group activities to avoid inter-mingling, would have to be incorporated. We will be targeting for the best possible occupancy with the best precautions. Most of the activities will be very private, exclusive and in smaller groups. I strongly feel the sector is psychologically ready to welcome the guests.
Initially it will be slow, we have to understand that tourists are here for their holidays. So, we cannot impose too many restrictions. As long as social distancing is maintained and staff are all face-masked, I feel things will be ok. The question is guest houses and hotels on inhabited islands. Initially there will be some limitations, but eventually we will have to adapt. No country is ready in my opinion, but the sector has to start from somewhere. Starting now is good. Low arrivals will help resorts’ staff adapt to the new normal through day-to-day operational experience. Eventually this would be the norm. Anyway, all resorts in Maldives already adhere to high health and safety standards like ISO, HASSOP, etc. The new normal is only adding on a few extra precautions of disinfection and social distancing
Main problem is that Europe has not included the Maldives in its list of 15 countries that Europeans can go to without quarantine upon return. Furthermore, Italian citizens are not allowed to travel to countries outside of the EU. Once this problem is solved, then we can start to think about the rest.
Up to now, no tourists are allowed to travel yet; no Asians, no Americans, no European… so we still have to wait. I really hope Maldives is ready, but I am not sure about it at the moment. In any case, we want to start operations from August. Let's hope the world will help us.
A new pandemic spread throughout the world, which makes traveling much harder. Unlike other countries we can offer a true Maldivian experience. Our tourist facilities provide peace of mind with complete privacy, and your stay would be uninterrupted by an excess of tourists. The rebound in leisure travel sentiments has so far been traditional. Tour operators report that travellers plan to take a leisure trip in the next few months and individual booking requests are more popular than group travellers. Guests may enjoy the hotel facilities like beach, restaurants, scuba diving plus spa & wellness facilities, but the re-opening hotels may not have routine activities available. "Maldives, The Sun Will Shine Again" is the slogan chosen by MMPRC for its tourism re-launch campaign. As the Maldives readies to open its borders on July 15 and authorities and the tourism industry are showing a lot of optimism and self-confidence. We are eager to welcome tourists, in addition to preserving jobs and preparing businesses for recovery.
Maldives needs to learn from Bhutan; It’s the only country in the world where forest cover area so much so that it is the only country that is carbon negative. That is because they limit development in these areas in addition to having a vision and a plan for the destination. On the other hand, Maldives loses coral reef cover every day with the developments happening in the country. This pandemic taught all of us a lesson: we need to be responsible of ourselves and our environment. I believe we will take this time as an opportunity and work towards a sustainable tourism plan for next 100 years. We expect limited tourists during the first 6 months due to limited air capacity and the way the virus is spreading in some major source markets. We are welcoming guest for a holiday experience, all of whom have suffered in many ways during COVID-19. We don’t want to remind them of the virus during their vacation. We have our guest-confidence protocols to make sure we provide a safe environment but our main aim is to offer a memorable holiday experience. We will have our full offering, but in limited outlets until occupancy picks up. However, the guest will be able to have the full experience.