The Maldives reopens the door for South Asians

MALE, The Maldives, 8 July 2021: Airlines home-based in South Asia can resume flights to the Maldives starting 15 July, according to an announcement by the Ministry of Tourism and Health Protection Agency earlier this week.

South Asia comprises India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Visa-on-arrival entry will be resume for travellers from six countries on a provisional basis starting 15 July, subject to a review of the Covid-19 situation in each country.  This opens the door for Indian airlines to resume flights, with Go First and Indigo already announcing timetables and fares.  

Effective from 7 July, work permit holders travelling from South Asian countries can also enter the Maldives with certain conditions such as presenting a negative PCR test for Covid-19 prior to entry into the Maldives and showing proof they are full vaccinated. They will still have to undergo a 14-day quarantine.

Two Indian airlines have already confirmed flights. Go First, formerly GoAir, will operate flights from Delhi, Bengaluru and Mumbai to Malé. From each of these cities, Go First will start with a twice-weekly schedule (Thursday and Sunday), add two more flights (Wednesday and Saturday) from 4 August and daily from 3 September.

IndiGo announced direct flights from Mumbai, Kochi and Bengaluru. From Kochi and Bengaluru, IndiGo will fly on Thursdays. Flights from Mumbai start 16 July (on Fridays and Saturdays), then daily from 20 July. SpiceJet, Vistara and Air India will follow soon with updated timetables.

Meanwhile, the country’s Tourism Minister Abdulla Mausoom says he remains confident tourist arrivals will bounce back after suffering declines in May and June.

The Maldives recorded 510,549 arrivals from January to June but hopes to achieve 1.5 million tourists by year-end.

Tourist visits started to fall in April after the country suspended vias-on-arrival for visitors from South Asia that immediately forced airlines in India to halt flights. India is the largest supply market.