Tourism Minister: 100,000 additional arrivals expected in remainder of 2020

Tourism Minister Dr. Abdulla Mausoom in an exclusive interview to Sun on September 17, 2020. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

Maldivian Tourism Minister Dr. Abdulla Mausoom has stated that he expects an additional 100,000 tourist arrivals to Maldives in the remainder of the year.

Soon after his appointment as Tourism Minister, Mausoom stated that he is targeting 120,000 tourist arrivals this year. The country has recorded more than 22,000 tourist arrivals since it reopened borders in mid-July.

Speaking on an episode of BBC and PATA’s Destination Insight webinar series, Mausoom said that the tourism industry faces multiple challenges amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but that the Maldivian tourism industry has been successful in pushing through the challenges.

He said that while Maldives had only a slow stream of tourist arrivals when it reopened its borders on July 15, the numbers have since begun picking up.

The country reached a daily tourist arrival of 1,000 last week.

“Our numbers are increasing and this year we are expecting 100,000 plus for this remaining period. And another thing is, people are deciding to stay longer now because of border crossing hassles. They choose to stay longer. So our average duration of stay is over two weeks now. It was one week, earlier,” said Mausoom.

Maldivian Tourism Minister Dr. Abdulla Mausoom (R) speaks to BBC presenter Carmen Roberts (L) on an episode of BBC and PATA's Destination Insight Series on October 8, 2020.

He said that one of the biggest challenges facing Maldives in attracting tourists is the mandatory 14-day home quarantine required by many of the source markets after overseas travel.

Mausoom said that he hopes the home quarantine requirement will be lifted in source markets soon.

“That will be a real game changer,” he said.

Mausoom said that Maldives has issued licenses for more than 80 resorts to reopen, which have 25,000 tourist beds between them.

There are also approximately 2,000 tourist beds in operation in safari vessels.

“So over 50 percent of the beds are now in operation. It’s not full yet, but we hope it’s going to get busier day by day,” he said.

Maldives had recorded 380,000 tourist arrivals when it closed its borders on March 27, and had recorded 1.77 million tourist arrivals last year.