Maldives tourism will return to pre-COVID-19 levels by end of 2021: Champa Afeef

Famous businessman and resort mogul 'Champa' Hussain Afeef | Photo: Corporate Maldives

Malé, Maldives – One of the founders of the Maldivian tourism industry, Hussain Afeef (Champa Afeef) has said that Maldives tourism industry is expected to bounce back to pre-Covid-19 levels by the end of this year.

Speaking at a press conference held by Tourism Ministry earlier today, Afeef told that he expects the tourism industry to bounce back as soon as the European borders are opened.

Afeef added that majority of the tourists coming to Maldives now was from Eastern Europe and that once more European countries open up their borders, the Maldivian tourism sector would flourish.

He also told that once vaccination increases around the world that more countries would ease up on the restrictions on traveling and that this would hopefully help boost the Maldivian tourism in November and December which is considered as the peak season amid winter and new year holidays in western countries.

Afeef also told that people are vigorously anticipating the opportunity to be able to travel again and that Maldives would be one of the prime destinations for such people. He also added that while Maldives is going to celebrate 50 year anniversary of Maldivian tourism industry, that being the ‘number one’ destination is the most challenging task for the country.

The top market for tourism arrivals for 2021 until now have been identified as India. Russia follows closely while Ukraine is the country with the third highest tourist arrivals. In addition, Kazakhstan has also been noted as a top source of tourist arrivals as well as Germany.

Romania, France, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and Czech Republic are also among top 10 source markets for tourist arrivals to the Maldives this year.

Being heavily reliant on the tourism industry with majority of its income coming from the sector either directly or indirectly, the Maldivian economy crashed hard and fast when the pandemic hit, suspending flights and closing off countries. However, Maldives has come a long way since then and has made a very successful recovery of the sector, adapting to a new normal way of life and tourism. 

As of now, Maldives has welcomed more than 200,000 tourists in just 2021 alone, with numbers expected to increase on the daily as Covid-19 safety measures and vaccination continues to makes traveling safer again. Til date, more than 30 percent of the tourism front line workers have received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccines, in the Maldives.

With this, the country is aiming to make 2022 the golden year of tourism, for which preparations have already begun. This year one million tourists are expected to visit the Maldives, as bed capacities in various tourist accommodation modes open up, adapted to the new normal life.

As the demand increases, Maldives is also working on increasing the capacity available for tourists. Currently, there are a total of 44,859 beds available from 147 resorts, 370 hotels and guest houses, as well as 140 safari vessels. Currently, there are only few restrictions for visitors entering the country, with just the requirement to produce a negative PCR test administered 96 hours prior to departure.