Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Company (MMPRC) have stated that Italian tourists will be the first to visit the Maldives when the archipelago's borders are opened once again.
Maldives closed its borders to tourists and suspended issuing on-arrival visas as a precautionary measure against COVID-19 on March 25. Since then, the popular travel destination has recorded over 600 positive cases of COVID-19. The tourism-dependent country's economy has been hit hard as a result of the pandemic.
MMPRC held a webinar with Italian travel companies to discuss bringing tourists to the Maldives after the COVID-19 pandemic is controlled. MMPRC also took part in a special webinar held by Italy's largest online travel agency, Easy Market Travel Solutions.
The corporation said while over 100 travel agents participated in the webinar, the interest in Maldives has not declined despite the country's current situation.
Over 1.7 million tourists visited Maldives during 2019. While the government had set its sights on welcoming even more tourists this year, the COVID-19 pandemic has steeply declined the number of arrivals, with the government estimating approximately 800,000 tourist arrivals for the rest of the year if the country is re-opened in July.
The Maldives welcomed its first tourist, an Italian national, in 1972. Italy is among the top markets for Maldivian tourism. The COVID-19 pandemic severely affected Italy, with 215,858 infections and almost 30,000 deaths recorded to date.