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Maldives Emerges as The New Goa For Indian Travel Enthusiasts Amidst COVID Scare

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The Maldives islands are one of the few places on earth that everyone hopes to experience at least once in their lifetime. The Maldives surely has the Indian Ocean in all its charm, from the lagoon-front villas to white sand beaches to the pink sunsets turning into a golden sky. With 99% of the Maldives covered by the sea, it is where you can see beautiful fishes and corals, with over five thousand coral reefs and plenty of colourful reef fish, corals, and many other marine lives you could see underwater. 

Maldives has become an ideal location for the India travellers, as it is geographically blessed by its isolated nature, making it one of the safest destinations to travel to right now. Incoming travellers from India to the Maldives were largely influenced by Bollywood celebrities opting for stays at high-end resorts and organically promoting the destination.

With the rising cases in India and the possibility of a more severe dangerous second wave, many states of India are already in discussions of lockdowns and travel restrictions. This has compelled many Indian travel lovers to focus on international travel destinations under which Maldives takes a top spot. 

While Maldives opened its borders on July 15, 2020 with strict safety measures for the travellers. Resorts and guesthouses have opened their doors for tourists in line with HPA guidelines. Visitors from the South Asian nation to the sandy paradise known for its clear water and white beaches jumped 50% to just over 44,000 in the first two months of the year versus 2020, figures from the island nation’s ministry of tourism show. Arrivals from China, Japan and South Korea were down around 98%. Tourists from India also made up 23.3% of the total in the two months, the most from any single country.

India has always been a key market for Maldives. Since the reopening of the borders, the arrival statistics has shown gradual and constant growth. As per the statistics of Ministry of Tourism, Republic of Maldives, by the end of 2020 India became the number one source market with 62,905 Indian tourists holidaying in the island country, thus accounting for 11.3 per cent of the total market share. 

This growth accelerated due to various travel restrictions amid COVID-19 and air travel bubble that was initiated between India and Maldives. This created a positive pathway for additional flights from India giving much required opportunities for travellers to visit Maldives.

“The Maldives remains the top pick for Indians,” said Pradeep Sharma, owner of Kolkata-based Agwani Travels. “It used to be a high-end destination but now the Maldives is offering good deals on hotels and people have limited options. Thailand hasn’t opened up, Southeast Asia hasn’t opened up. All the Bollywood film stars are doing promotions.”

According to Thoyyib Mohamed, MD, MMPRC, “Despite the pandemic, Maldives tourism has done well. We expected a good last quarter for tourism, but the results were beyond expectations in December. India has always been our focus market. Over the last few years, Maldives has very rapidly ascended the list of the most preferred holiday destination for Indians. During this unprecedented time, we had to re-strategize our marketing activities in order to accommodate the current trends and in order to gain the maximum out of our market efforts. We have constantly attempted to study the consumers’ behaviour accordingly and plan for our efforts for 2021.”

One of the major reasons that many Indian travellers choose Maldives for their much needed getaways is the safety of the country during this pandemic. No one can enter the country without a negative COVID test result and no one can fly out if they are tested positive. Which means, you are only allowed on the flight to Maldives if you produce a negative report of the RT PCR test done upto 72 hours of the departure and while you are in the resort, you undergo another test 2 days prior to flying back. 

Maldives recorded 555,399 arrivals in 2020 and achieved their target of 500,000 arrivals for the year. For 2021, the authorities are targeting 1.5 million arrivals.  

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