Since borders reopened in the Maldives on 15 July 2020, guesthouses have steadily recommended activities since October this year.
According to the Ministry of Tourism, there are currently 182 guest houses open across 10 atolls in Maldives. The majority of these guesthouses are located within the greater Male’ region, with a tally of 81, followed by 48 guesthouses in Alif Alif Atoll. 18 and 17 establishments are in Alif Dhaalu Atoll and Vaavu Atoll respectively. All tourists visiting Male’ for more than 48 hours must present a negative PCR test conducted within 72 hours prior to departure, and guesthouse employees must undergo testing on a monthly basis.
The guest houses in the Baa, Noonu, Haa Alif and Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll are steadily taking reservations as well. Tourists and locals are still inclined to wear masks in public in these islands where the guest houses operate, according to the local Health Protection Agency and relevant authorities. The Health Protection Agency of Maldives (HPA) has released the guidelines guesthouses and hotels must follow to be able to reopen for business during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The guidelines have been released following the steady recovery of the tourism sector of the Maldives, due to the improvement of COVID-19 cases in the Greater Male area. According to HPA, the sample positivity rate has consistently remained low at a level of less than 5 percent since mid of September 2020. Hence, guesthouses and hotels in the Greater Male’ area are allowed to open for general operations if they fulfill the public health requirements, as well as obtain approval from the Ministry of Tourism (MOT).
The Ministry of Tourism, together with Visit Maldives and other stakeholders, have made it a mission to promote guesthouses and local tourism in the future. In this regard, a major portion of marketing activities will be carried out with this in mind for the coming year. It is also estimated that tourist arrival rates will peak, and 1.5 million tourists will arrive within the year 2021.
Photo Credit: Gulhi Island