Despite increasing coronavirus infections, Maldives recently welcomed its first international flight after nearly a three-month hiatus. Tourism is the primary driver of the Maldives economy, and the island nation is looking forward to reviving this highly lucrative industry.
A water cannon sprayed the Qatar Airways flight from Doha, which carried 104 passengers in a special salute. As he welcomed incoming tourists, Economic Minister Fayyaz Ismail said, “The stronger our safety measures, the better chance we have of being hailed as a (coronavirus) safe destination.”
Travelers coming to the Maldives don’t need to be tested or carry virus-free certificates. In case a tourist shows symptoms of cough or coughing, authorities will provide free tests. Out of the 159 resorts in the archipelago, 33 will open from Wednesday, but not all of them will accept bookings from now. Besides Qatar Airways, other airlines, including SriLankan Airlines, Emirates, and Etihad, have scheduled flights to the Maldives in July. Several other airlines, including, SilkAir, Gulf Air, India’s IndiGo, and Hong Kong Airlines, will soon follow suit.
However, this reopening comes in spite of the steady rise in Covid-19 infections. The country has already seen nearly 2800 cases and 14 deaths, from a population of only 340,000. Most of these cases are poor migrant laborers and locals in densely populated areas of Male.