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Maldives to offer COVID-19 vaccine shots to lure tourists back

Maldives will offer COVID-19 vaccine shots to lure tourists back.

Are you fed-up with waiting for your vaccine? If yes, then vacationing in Maldives is your answer. Yes you heard that right. Now you can enjoy a well-deserved holiday in Maldives and get yourself vaccinated against COVID-19 at the same time.

Maldives dives into vaccine tourism

The island nation is believed to be the first country to offer vaccines for visitors as part of its ‘3V Program’ – Visit, Vaccinate, Vacation – to help revive tourism.

Abdulla Mausoom, Tourism Minister of Maldives, speaking to CNBC, said that he hoped it would create a ‘more convenient’ way to visit the country. Presently, travellers have to undertake a COVID-19 PCR test and present proof of their hotel booking to enter the country.

An official start date is expected soon from the country’s Health Protection Agency, but the vaccinations are seen as crucial for helping the Maldives.

Related: In a first, Maldives launches an innovative traveller loyalty program

Local population comes first

Mr. Mausoom emphasized that the new vaccine program for visitors will not come at the expense of Maldives locals. Maldives plans to focus on getting both doses of the vaccine to all its own people first, but Mausoom doesn’t think that will take too long.

Already, about 53% of the country’s 530,000 residents have received their first dose, which includes 90% of those working on the front line and in tourism. The Maldivian government will wait until the entire population has received its 1st and 2nd dose before opening to vaccine tourism.

Related: Vistara Airlines announces flights from Mumbai to Malé

It is not clear yet whether tourists will have to pay for their vaccine shots, but supply doesn’t appear to be a problem according to Mausoom. He said that the country has received vaccine donations from India, China and the World Health Organization’s Covax initiative, which aims to ensure that vaccines are fairly and equitably distributed, as well as having ordered its own supply from Singapore.

Mausoom said:

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

Tourism is very important for Maldives

The Maldives is incredibly dependent on tourism, with some 1.7 million tourists a year. Tourism accounts for roughly 67% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). So it’s very important for the island nation to get people coming back to the country as soon as possible.

The Maldives reopened to visitors in July 2020. However, tourism has been slow to rebound. So far in 2021, 350,000 travelers have arrived, the bulk coming from India looking to take advantage of The Maldives’ limited entry requirements.

Related: Maldivian Airways to operate flights between Mumbai and Maldives

While it is hard to reach pre-covid numbers, Maldives hopes that it will reach a target of 1.5 million tourists by the end of the year.

What do you think of ‘3V’ scheme? Let me know in the comments section below.

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