In the months ahead, Maldives tourism officials promise vaccinations linked to holiday packages in the sun-kissed archipelago’s 3V tourism — visit, vaccinate, and vacation.
Tourism Minister Dr Abdulla Mausoom says the plan is to offer visitors two doses of the vaccine, giving incentives to visit the nation, which depends heavily on tourism revenue, but also to stay there, at considerable expense, for several weeks, while they wait for the second dose.
It is one of the first countries to fully reopen to tourists; its tourism authorities have set a target of 1.5 million tourists this year. Over 350,000 people have already travelled there for leisure in 2021, mostly from India, which has been devastated by the Covid-19 epidemics.
Most tourism frontline workers have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine according to Mausoom. “The main idea of tourism being open is to provide reasonably safe tourism with minimum inconvenience,” he told the Times of India.
While there has been no date announced for the start of the 3V programme, the minister insists that it will only happen once all Maldives residents are fully immunized. As of today, 4.8 per cent have been fully immunized.
The Maldives has signed up to the World Health Organisation’s Covax programme, which wants to ensure a supply of vaccine doses to nations unable to secure their own. But the WHO is against the allocation of vaccine doses for leisure travel; its director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, warned last week of a “shocking imbalance” in vaccinations around the world. “On average in high-income countries, almost one in four people has received a Covid-19 vaccine,” he said. “In low-income countries, it’s one in more than 500.”
Although the Maldives was the first country to officially plan for a vacation vaccination programme, other countries have also used the promise of vaccination to lure people their way.