The Maldives is offering visitors a new perk: vaccines on arrival. The island nation in South Asia is believed to be the first country to offer vaccines for visitors as part of its ‘3V Programme’: visit, vaccinate, vacation.
During an interview with CNBC, the country’s tourism minister Abdulla Mausoom emphasised that the new vaccine programme for visitors will not come at the expense of Maldives locals. So far, about 53 per cent of the country’s 530,000 residents have been given their first dose of the vaccine, according to Reuters. About 90 per cent of frontline workers in the tourism industry in the Maldives have also had at least their first shot, according to the tourism chief.
The country has received vaccine donations from India, China and the World Health Organization’s COVAX initiative, which aims to ensure that vaccines are fairly and equitably distributed. The Maldives has also ordered additional supplies from Singapore.
“I don’t think supply is a problem in the Maldives because our population is relatively small,” Mausoom said. “The quota we get from the various organisations and friendly nations will also help.”
Malta to pay tourists to visit
A similarly enticing approach is being made in Malta. After planning to lift most travel restrictions related to Covid-19 by 1 June, Malta is now looking at ways to revive its tourism industry, planning to offer incoming tourists a handout of up to €200 when they book a local hotel through the hotel’s website for a minimum of two nights, Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo announced last week.
The total compensation offered to a traveller is determined by the hotel’s ranking. The compensation can be upped an extra 10 per cent by booking a hotel on the Maltese island of Gozo, just north of the main island, according to Reuters.
Vaccinated tourists in Sri Lanka to have more freedom
Elsewhere, Sri Lanka will operate ‘bio bubbles’ for visitors to the island this year. Visitors who have received both doses of a vaccine within two weeks of arrival can leave their ‘bio bubble’ approved hotel after 24 to 48 hours if they test negative for Covid on arrival in Sri Lanka.
Those who have yet to receive two vaccine doses will still have to stay at approved ‘Safe & Secure’ Level 1 hotels for the first 14 days of their visit. These guests will be allowed to stay at multiple approved Level 1 hotels and use all their facilities, as well as visit approved tourist sites in a bio bubble.
All visitors to Sri Lanka, regardless of their vaccination status, will have to take a PCR test 96 hours before boarding their flight to the destination and present proof of a negative result.
Saint Lucia to promote extended stays
Meanwhile, Saint Lucia is promoting immersive ‘Live It’ trips of up to six weeks. The destination has unveiled this initiative with the hope of opening up to key source markets such as the UK in the coming months.
Saint Lucia wants to capitalise on demand for longer trips as well as the trend for remote working seen during the Covid-19 pandemic. The ‘Live It’ programme will involve participants being paired up with a local tour operator, known as ‘Live It Island Specialists’, who will act as personal guides during their stay on the island.
The operator will tailor activities to suit each individual visitor with options such as learning creole cooking, exploring rainforests, diving around reefs, hiking in the Pitons, philanthropic activities and visiting Saint Lucia’s ‘hidden gems’.