Maldives Will Offer Vaccines To Travelers To Help Revive Tourism

by Christina Marfice

If you still need a COVID vaccine, you can get one (and a great vacation) by booking a trip to the Maldives

The COVID-19 vaccine rollout in the U.S. is picking up steam, and most people are now eligible (or will be very soon) to get vaccinated. But that doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily easy to secure an appointment in some places. And if you’re getting vaccinated, why not celebrate that major event — with a fabulous vacation? The Maldives is starting a new program aimed to revive its tourism industry in the post-pandemic era by offering COVID vaccines to any visitor who arrives with a hotel booking already made.

The Maldives, an island nation in Southeast Asia, is starting its “3v” program, which stands for “visit, vaccinate, and vacation,” and provides a “more convenient” way to visit the country, tourism minister Abdulla Mausoom told CNBC. Currently, visitors are allowed to come to the island nation as long as they can show a negative PCR test and proof of a hotel booking. Vaccinated visitors will be able to enter without any restrictions “very soon — maybe even this week,” Mausoom said.

The Maldives is known for its tropical beaches and resorts with huts built directly over the clear, blue waters of the ocean. 67 percent of the country’s GDP comes from tourism, which is why it prioritized hospitality workers with its vaccine rollout. Currently, the tourism ministry says, 90 percent of front-line tourism workers are vaccinated, and more than half of the country’s total residents have received at least one dose.

Mausoom wouldn’t provide reporters with a timeline for the program to vaccinate visitors, saying it won’t happen until every resident of the Maldives is able to get their first and second dose. He said that supply of vaccines for visitors will not be a problem, but the country has not yet decided whether visitors will be expected to pay for their own vaccines.

“I don’t think supply’s a problem in Maldives because our population is relatively small,” he said. “The quota we get from the various organizations and friendly nations also will help.”

He said the country has a goal to welcome 1.5 million tourists this year. But even if it meets that goal, there will still be a shortfall of tourism dollars after all the travel restrictions and shutdowns in 2020.

“When we reach this year’s target, still we will have a shortfall of what the country needs,” Mausoom said. “But still, that is much better than we anticipated in late 2020.”