EU: All European tourists stranded in Maldives, now safely home

Tourists converse with a resort representative at Velana International Airport. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

The European Union (EU) has announced that the thousands of European tourists left stranded in Maldives following the tightening of travel restrictions over the COVID-19 pandemic had all managed to travel home safely.

The EU External Action Service has issued a statement thanking the Maldivian government for its “excellent corporation”.

 “The cooperation with the government of Maldives has been excellent: the authorities were constantly updated on suspected and confirmed cases, and were open to suggestions coming from the EU, both on commercial flights and on isolation and quarantine measures for the tourists. This helped to keep the number of infected foreigners down,” said the EU in its statement.

It said that good coordination and unity of messages had been crucial in ensuring the success of the operation, despite the lack of an EU delegation in Maldives, or any embassies of any European country, except for the UK.

“Through its missions in Colombo and Delhi, the EU, together with Member States, partner countries as Norway and Switzerland - and with strong support from the UK High Commission in Malé - managed to find the right balance in relaying useful information to tourists, and in prioritizing requests to the Maldivian government, mainly keeping commercial flights between the Maldives and Europe,” said the EU.

EU said there were some 34,000 tourists in Maldives when the country made the decision to implement stronger measures to combat the new coronavirus, most of whom were European tourists.