The Maldives’ Health Protection Agency has decided to suspend tourists travelling to the Maldives from India. Effective from 27th April 2021, tourists arriving from India will no longer be allowed to stay at tourist facilities in inhabited islands.
This decision will put a strain on the Maldives’ recovering tourism industry as India is currently the biggest tourist source market in terms of arrivals. According to the latest statistics from the Maldives’ Ministry of tourism, Maldives recorded over 83,289 tourists from India by 21st April 2021.
The Maldives’ declaration to suspend tourists travelling from India comes as the country faces a giant surge in COVID-19 cases. The Maldives’ neighbouring country recorded a whopping 349,691 positive cases of COVID-19 yesterday. Reports reveal that patients have died from a lack of oxygen.
The Guardian reports that almost 1.6 million cases have been registered in a week, bringing total cases to more than 15 million and n the space of just 12 days, the Covid positivity rate doubled to 17%, while in Delhi it hit 30%.
Since the Maldives reopened its borders in 2020, India remains as the biggest source market in terms of tourist arrivals. In 2019, India was the fastest-growing tourist market and became the leading market in 2020. In 2020, Maldives recorded 62,960 tourist arrivals from India.
Several airlines from India are operating regular flights to the Maldives. Budget airlines including GoAir and IndiGo operate frequent flights between the two countries.
Over the past months, countless celebrities from India have visited the Maldives and made headlines. While many dubbed the Maldives as the ‘New Goa’, celebrities are also facing backlash for choosing to holiday during the pandemic.
Maldives and India maintain close bilateral relations. Hence, the two countries have been friendly and close in strategic, economic and military cooperation. In addition to the innumerable financial contributions, India has also donated 200,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to the Maldives.
Feature image by Velana International Airport