The Maldives announces plans to vaccinate tourists

The government is offering Covid vaccines to tourists arriving at the island destination through its ‘3V’ programme, in a bid to give the country’s tourism industry a shot in the arm. 

The Maldives government has announced it will soon offer visitors vaccinations on arrival as part of a three-pronged initiative to revive the country’s tourism sector. The strategy, called 3V (visit, vaccine and vaccination), is expected to help the country reach its target of 1.5 million tourist arrivals and 10 million bed nights this year, tourism minister Abdulla Mausoom told the media. “When we reach this year’s target, still we will have a shortfall of what the country needs,” he said. “But still, that is much better than we anticipated in late 2020,” he added. 

Known for its tropical beaches, pristine, turquoise waters, and luxury resorts, The Maldives is heavily dependent on tourism, which contributes to about 67% of its GDP, directly and indirectly. After suspending international travel for six months over the coronavirus pandemic, it became one of the first countries to reopen its borders to visitors in July last year, and offered a 30-day free visa on arrival. According to data published by the Ministry of Tourism, The Maldives welcomed a total of 2,00,871 tourists as of March this year, with a majority of them being from India. 

Maldives hotels

While visitors are presently required to present a negative Covid test, taken within 96 hours of their departure, and a confirmed hotel booking, Mausoom says the country will soon begin granting restriction-free entry to vaccinated tourists.

The Maldives government is yet to announce a date for the rollout of its tourist vaccination programme. Authorities are prioritising the inoculation of citizens and will open vaccines for arrivals only once all Maldivian residents have received their shots. According to Reuters, around 53% of the island nation’s approximately 530,000 residents have received their first dose. Mausoom has said 90% of front-line tourism staff have received their first dose as well.

Mausoom appears confident that the 3V programme will not lead to a vaccine shortage.”I don’t think supply’s a problem in Maldives because our population is relatively small. The quota we get from the various organizations and friendly nations also will help,” he told CNBC.