Maldives added to UK’s safe travel list

Tourists at Velana International Airport on July 15, 2020. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

The United Kingdom (UK) has made the decision to lift COVID-19 travel restrictions for Maldives, adding the island destination to its global safe travel list.

The British High Commission in Male’ announced in a statement on Thursday evening that effective Sunday, October 25, the UK no longer advises against travel to Maldives.

This means that travellers from Maldives to the UK will no longer be required to self-isolate upon arrival.

The decision has been welcomed by the British High Commissioner to Maldives, Caron Rohsler, who noted the high demand for the island destination among British tourists.

“I am delighted that the UK COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted for Maldives. The travel industry here, and in the UK, tell us there is pent-up demand among British tourists. With British Airways flying three times a week now, and many other commercial routes back in Maldives, I look forward to seeing tourism flourish once again,” she said.

Rohsler noted that the change in UK travel restrictions is based on the number of COVID-19 cases in a country and a combination of other risk factor.

“The steady reduction in cases, which are concentrated in the Male’ area, was important to achieving this outcome,” she said.

Rohsler credited Maldives’ success in driving down case numbers and getting on the UK’s safe travel list to a sustained effort by the government, the Health Protection Agency (HPA), healthcare workers, the law enforcement, travel and tourism associations and private companies in various sectors.

“The hard work is paying off, and I congratulate everyone who played their part,” she said.

Rohsler noted that the COVID-19 pandemic remains ongoing, and that travel risk assessments are reviewed and subject to change. She urged everyone to take protective measures such as wearing masks, washing hands and maintaining physical distance.

“COVID-19 is something we have to learn to live with until we can vaccinate against it and hopefully eliminate it. Nobody wants to go back into lockdowns and travel restrictions. So, it’s up to each and every one of us to keep ourselves, and each other, safe,” she said.

The UK is one of Maldives’ top source markets for tourist arrivals. The UK has been ranked fourth top source market for tourist arrivals since Maldives reopened its borders after a nearly four months of lockdown on July 15, with 2,605 tourist arrivals.

The tourist arrivals from UK make up for 8.1 percent of the total 31,801 tourist arrivals recorded since border reopening.

The decision to lift travel restrictions for Maldives is expected further boost tourist arrivals from UK.

Maldives received the Safe Travels stamp granted by World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) back in September, and is currently open to all tourists, provided they have proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken maximum 96 hours before departure from their original destination.