Maldives to consider introducing 'Vaccine Tourism'

Tourism Minister Dr. Abdulla Mausoom has stated that the government is contemplating the introduction of ‘Vaccine Tourism’ in the Maldives.

Responding to lawmakers’ questions at Wednesday’s parliament sitting, Dr. Mausoom said while the tourism industry has been promoting Maldives as a ‘Work and Vacation’ destination in the midst of the current global pandemic, the government is considering promoting the Maldives with the tagline, ‘Visit, Vaccine and Vacation’.

The currently available COVID-19 vaccines require two doses of the vaccine to be received within a 3-4 week interval. Therefore, a significant duration of time passes between the administration of the two doses. If tourists stay in the Maldives during that duration, it would be very beneficial for the industry, said the minister.

The maximum duration of time a tourist can stay in the Maldives is currently three months. However, the stay can be further extended with special permits. Dr. Mausoom said the ministry would seek to extend the duration of maximum stay with a new bill that will be submitted at the parliament.

The minister also noted that the Maldives would likely become one of the first countries to vaccinate its entire population against COVID-19. This, in turn, would make the Maldives one of the safest destinations for tourists, said the minister.

The Maldives began its national vaccination drive last week. The government has already commenced vaccinating tourism industry workers. In this regard, tourism workers from guesthouses, resorts and liveaboards in the Greater Male’ Region, as well as airport reps for nearby resorts are being vaccinated. 10,000 tourism workers who work closely with tourists are expected to be inoculated under the first round of vaccinations.

Speaking on the challenges faced by the industry in vaccinating tourists, Minister Mausoom said the government’s current policy is to prioritize vaccinating Maldives citizens. However, the government and the Health Protection Agency can look into vaccinating tourists based on the availability of vaccines.

“Vaccinating tourists will help to sell tourism, and will ensure the safety of tourism workers. Hopefully, Maldives will become a destination that offers ‘Vaccine Tourism’,” said the minister.