The long-awaited return of local tourism has finally come to Maldives!

Today, a total of nine residential local islands have rolled up their sleeves to begin welcoming back guests. Local tourism is a booming sector of the industry and is often credited with showcasing the actual side of Maldivian local life which is something that cannot be seen elsewhere in the world.

The reopening of guesthouses in residential islands means that the tourism industry is back to fully functioning. International tourists can now visit these residential islands, where extreme safety standards have been put up for the safety of both locals and beloved tourists. 

The island of A.A. Mathiveri.

Speaking in a presser for the reopening, Maldivian Tourism Ministry’s Senior Executive Director Ali Razzan said that the reopening guesthouses are to be inspected by local authorities of the islands in order to ensure that they meet the requirements of health authorities which are then to be verified to the Tourism Ministry. Only with the completion of this stringent procedure, are guesthouses permitted to reopen. 

The situation of the virus in Maldives is now relatively calm. Local islands are very much safe from the virus with just a few isolated cases found in quarantine. The main outbreak which happened in Male' City has also seen a significant reduction of cases. Guesthouses in Male' City area are yet to reopen and tourists are, for now, not allowed to travel to the capital.

What islands can you now visit?

Guesthouses on the following islands can be traveled to by tourists starting from today onwards.

  • K. Maafushi
  • K. Hura
  • V. Thinadhoo
  • N. Fohdhoo
  • Th. Gaadhiffushi
  • AA. Mathiveri
  • HDh. Hanimaadhoo
  • Sh. Narudhoo
  • V. Fulidhoo

These islands are among the best of the best in terms of local tourism and are home breathtaking beaches and kind natured locals who welcome guests with open arms.

Maldivians live in a way very much different from other places and the local islands where most of the top-notch guesthouses are located hold a very special place for that traveler who wishes to experience a culturally diverse way of life.

The local island of V. Thinadhoo.

Guesthouses are a world apart in terms of experience from the resort life aspect of Maldivian tourism. 16 guesthouses located in the nine islands have been authorized to reopen.

Speaking further, Razzan said, “We believe additional guesthouses will fulfill requirements and receive SOP approval."

Guesthouses in residential islands have been closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic since March 17. With the reopening, masks have been made mandatory in islands with operational guesthouses. 

Safety measures and all you need to know!

Guesthouses are required to have a COVID-19 safe plan in place before they can be authorized to reopen. Once a guesthouse shares the plan with the Tourism Ministry, the Tourism Ministry will review the plan and grant permission after the local council of the island where the guesthouse is located visits the property to ensure that arrangements have been made in accordance with the plan and that all health and safety requirements have been met.

Each guesthouse is required to establish a focal point and to have rooms designated for quarantine and isolation. As such, islands with more than 500 tourist beds are required to have a minimum of 15 rooms allocated for quarantine and isolation, islands with 100 to 500 tourist beds are required to have a minimum of eight rooms allocated for quarantine and isolation, and islands with less than 100 tourist beds are required to have minimum five rooms allocated for quarantine and isolation.

A guesthouse in A. A. Mathiveri.

Guesthouses are also required to have signage and posters on display to remind guests about health and safety measures, and to have sufficient stock of PPEs. Guesthouses are required to orient their staff on the COVID-19 safe plan, and to have arrangements in place so the staff can take a shower and change their work clothes prior to leaving for home after work.

Prior to reopening guesthouses, locals must be educated on COVID-19 and safety and preventive measures. Islands with operational guesthouses are required to have a flu clinic, and to maintain sufficient stock to PPEs and test kits at all times.

Taxis are required to have partitions, and tourists will be prohibited from entering residential properties. While guesthouses in residential islands outside the greater Male’ area are scheduled to reopen today, guesthouses in greater Male’ will not be allowed to reopen unless the infection rate is maintained below five percent for at least 28 days. Maldives has more than 10,000 tourist beds in guesthouses across 86 islands, and 10 percent of tourist arrivals to Maldives stay in guesthouses.

The local island of K. Maafushi.

The nation has been recording a steady increase in tourist arrivals since it reopened its borders on July 15, with 1,752 arrivals in July, 7,628 arrivals in August, and 9,538 arrivals in September. 3,140 tourist arrivals have been recorded within the first five days this October, and the numbers are expected to further improve once guesthouses reopen.

Maldives is currently open to all tourists, provided they can present a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken a maximum of 96 hours before departure from their original destination.