AS the world recovers from the devastating effects of Covid-19, the Maldives has become one of the first nations to welcome back international tourists to its shores.
As the island paradise reopens for business, BUZZ took the opportunity to ask the Managing Director of Maldives Marketing & Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) Thoyyib Mohamed about what visitors can expect on their next trip there.
What makes the Maldives a great holiday destination for Malaysians post Covid-19?
“Maldives is an island nation made up of 1,190+ coral islands strewn across the equator. This world-class holiday destination is well-known for its unique one-island-one-resort concept, which is much needed in light of the current situation.
“Along with the pristine natural beauty surrounding the resorts, privacy and seclusion are the epitome of what makes it one of the most sought-after tourist destinations in the world.
“Maldives is now getting ready to welcome tourists back to the country. Our shores have certainly missed them, and we are looking forward to welcoming the tourists back to the sunny side of life once again.”
What do you recommend first-timers in the Maldives to see, do and eat?
“To begin with, I would recommend looking out of the window as you fly on a plane and catch a bird’s eye view of this island nation as you arrive at your destination. The shades of blue will make you want to dive right into the ocean.
“You will be able to partake in a variety of activities such as snorkelling with turtles, manta rays, whale sharks, and explore the underwater kingdom of flora and fauna.
“Escape from everyday busy life by soaking in the sun and lazing on white sandy beaches while sipping on a freshly cut coconut. For those who still have trouble switching off, try starting your day with sunrise yoga by the beach.
“And there is no better way to replenish your energy than by having some locally made Maldivian food. Fish, especially yellowfin tuna, is a staple in many of our meals and short eats.
“Thus, fishing your own catch in the middle of the ocean along with your friends or family is an adventure worth trying. Seeing the atmosphere fade from blue, violet to red during the fishing trip on a ‘Dhoni’ (local boat), and tasting the fresh-caught barbecued fish underneath the dark sky will become a highlight of your stay.
“Try our famous ‘Mashuni and Roshi’ (grated coconut, tuna, chilli, onion and lime accompanied by chapati) or ‘Garudhiya and Baiy’ (tuna fish broth with rice) if you want a true taste of Maldivian cuisine.
“For water sports lovers, there is a variety of water sports to try from jet-skiing to kite surfing to windsurfing and so much more.
“For the adventure seekers, there as various shipwrecks to explore. If you are in the capital city, take a short tour and visit some of the historical hot spots in town. The possibilities are endless.”
What are the travel safety measures for those wanting to visit the Maldives?
“Maldives has always welcomed all nationalities to enter the country with a 30-day on arrival visa, and the fact that there is no requirement for a 14-day quarantine upon arrival is a great incentive that we are able to offer to our tourists.
“Along with that, proper measures and guidelines will be in place to ensure the safety of visitors, as advised by the local Health Protection Agency (HPA).
“The tourism establishments themselves are getting ready with additional safety measures that meet international standards.
“Furthermore, the Ministry of Tourism has announced that no additional taxes or charges will be imposed on visitors arriving in the country when borders open up.
“The naturally scattered formations of the islands are an added advantage for social distancing and holidaying in this era of the ‘new normal’.”
There is a perception that holidaying in the Maldives is expensive. What does the MMPRC have to say about that?
“Since the beginning of tourism in Maldives, our island nation has been a touristic destination beloved by millions of tourists of different categories from all over the world.
“Our inhabited islands have a range of guesthouses from budget to boutique to bed and breakfast inns and more. They offer a variety of amenities, service and luxury. Most do provide the opportunities for excursions to nearby islands and sandbanks, watersports, snorkelling and diving.
“A little bonus: by staying in an inhabited island, visitors have the prospect of experiencing the rich culture of the country like a true local. Visitors can make new friends, discover the history of the island by visiting accessible historical hotspots or even partake in day-to-day activities.”
What are the steps taken to further ensure the health and safety of tourists during their vacation in Maldives?
“The resorts that are opening [from July 15] will have to adhere to strict rules when it comes to re-opening. Also, tourists are only allowed to stay at one establishment during their trip in the first phase of opening the borders.
“Resorts will also be following these guidelines closely to ensure the safety of both staff and tourists. Personal hygiene, the usage of masks and social distancing are also encouraged.
“We will be carrying out safety and hygienic measures as stated by the WHO Guidelines and local Health Protection Agency. Tourists travelling to Maldives will be provided a 30-day tourist visa for all nationalities and they will not be subject to quarantine measures on arrival however are required to submit any medical test results.
“Travellers presenting symptoms of Covid-19 will be subjected to a PCR test. A health declaration card will be required as part of the procedure. Additionally, testing services will be available for those who require a test result to return to their countries of origin or any other destination with the requirement.
“As mentioned earlier, due to the unique geographical formation of the islands, resorts are isolated from each other meaning one resort is on one island. Only tourists and staff are accommodated on these resorts, far away from the hustle and bustle of other islands.”
What are the steps taken to manage group travel for tourists who may still want to observe social distancing?
“Due to the unfortunate Covid-19 situation, the majority of tourist facilities in the country are closed. Few luxury resorts are in operation, serving a few visitors who decided to stay.
“Other resorts are scheduled to open in the coming months. Thus, such group activities can be practised within those properties along with the safety and hygienic guidelines in place.
“Bookings for guesthouses and hotels on inhabited islands will be allowed from Aug 1 onwards.”
Click on the link to find out more about having the perfect vacation in the Maldives: https://visitmaldives.com/en