If you’re going to be stuck anywhere while the coronavirus pandemic runs its course, fewer locations are as inviting as the Maldives. The island nation, located in the heart of the Indian Ocean, has always been a favorite with globetrotters and is now ready to start getting things back to normal. As of today, the Maldives is open for business, with very few restrictions and no mandatory quarantines for international travelers.
The Maldives is comprised of 26 atolls that span around 115 square land miles. It is considered one of the world’s most unique sovereign states and has seen a number of changes since it was first inhabited 2,500 years ago. It has gone through Buddhist and Islamic periods of rule, and has also seen Portugal, the Netherlands and Britain try to take control. It officially became a republic in 1968, leading to the creation of an international island hotspot for tourists.
Now highly reliant on tourism, as well as fish exportation, for its survival, the Maldives is ready to embrace travelers, with virtually no questions asked. While other countries require quarantines or health clearances, none of this will be necessary for arrivals to the Velana International Airport in Male, the country’s capital – the Maldives is collaborating with the resorts to ensure that they offer the necessary protections. There will also not be a requirement to obtain a new visa or pay additional fees normally associated with travel.
As liberal as the new travel policies are, there will be a couple of restrictions. Primarily, international visitors will have to remain on the resort islands and at a single property. In other words, no island hopping in the short-term. However, this restriction will be lifted as progress is made and the country sees that it isn’t slipping backward with its control over the coronavirus. Exceptions will be made for travelers who have to move from one location to another due to their journey’s required stops.
Travelers have to keep in mind that there may be limits on travel to the Maldives implemented by other countries. This means that, if a flight has a layover in a restricted country, reaching the final destination may be an issue. According to Sonu Shivdasani, founder and CEO of resort company Soneva, in speaking with CNN Travel, “What is important to take into consideration is that it depends not only on the Maldives, but also on lifting of travel restrictions in different countries. It is not just desire, but ability.”
With that in mind, anyone planning a trip to the Maldives has to check the itinerary before making the purchase to ensure they won’t run into an unpleasant situation – airlines and online travel agencies are notorious for not wanting to give refunds for missed flights. However, with proper planning, it will soon be possible to visit one of the 156 resorts that are ready to start welcoming tourists. 43 are coming online now, with more being added over the next several months. The list of destinations is available on the Maldives website.