Newly-appointed Tourism Minister Dr. Abdulla Mausoom is not new to the industry. Having served the industry for most of his career, Minister Mausoom takes on an extremely difficult task of bringing the number one industry of the Maldives back to its former glory after an unprecedented calamity in the form of a virus pandemic.

The pandemic has hit the Maldives and its tourism industry the hardest, more so than any other nation in the world, it is safe to say.

This is a difficult task for even someone as experienced as Minister Mausoom. Speaking in an exclusive interview, Dr. Mausoom described the current situation as something the world has never before seen.

“During the tsunami disaster, the tourism industry was not affected that much. The situation is very different. Transport routes and travel was not affected. The current challenge is that the industry is directly affected. The biggest source markets to the Maldives has not commenced travel,"

"Currently, we have a travel bubble with India, but the major population centers are still restricted from travel. Even from China, we also spoke with some European nations, however, they are also not ready to commence direct travels yet.” Said the Minister. 

He stated that the borders of these nations remained closed and that travel was still being discouraged. The situation was changing every day, said the Minister who is at the forefront of the battle to resurge the Maldivian tourism industry. 

Tourists disembarking on a flight at Velana International Airport.

The Minister was defiant in stating that the country and he was not even close to giving up. Saying that the light at the end of the tunnel was near, the Minister said that he was very determined in succeeding. He was fully ready to overcome any and all challenges in the way to do this. 

Maldives is safe for travelers!

The industry currently had to be modeled in a safe tourism manner alongside the existence of the virus. Minister Mausoom said that the Maldives was fully determined to be one of the first nations to get back on its feet and that he wanted to make the nation an example to others. 

“Even now, tourists want to come to the Maldives. The difficulties are faced in flight frequencies and quarantine measures. However, day by day, the success story of the nation would make headlines all over the world. Then, everyone would know that the Maldivian model is the safest destination model. We will convey the message to the world. We need collaboration with everyone for the purpose. I am assured of that.” Said Minister Mausoom.

He stated that the success story and safety of the Maldives conveyed by visitors to others was a major target by the nation. The experience of these visitors to the Maldives, described to the world would renew the hope of the potential other visitors. The Minister described a hopeful picture for the future of the nation as he drew a picture-perfect road map.

“Airlines which brought the highest number of tourists to the Maldives are slowly starting to prepare for operations. Singapore Airlines, and Air Asia, which brought the highest number of travelers to guesthouses are now ready to commence. So, we have not lost hope. The pictures are indicating good tidings. When we welcome 2021, we will be at a place where we can celebrate.” Said the Minister. 

The biggest fear for travelers was that they may contract the virus while abroad. The main obstacle in travel for tourists was also this. 

More travel bubbles could come!

The Minister said that the biggest target for him right now was to convey the message of the nation’s safety. The vision was that Maldives is to be designated as the safest travel destination. The safe tourism stamp awarded to the Maldives was a clear indication of success, said the Minister.

“When the government reopened the nation for tourism, the main target was to designate the Maldives as a safe destination. The target is being achieved,”

“For sure, if the tourists come to the Maldives, they can spend their holidays in resorts and safaris safely. There is no indication of otherwise.” Said the Minister. 

He proudly stated that the entire world stood testament for the safety measures by the Maldives. Many nations were also interested in establishing travel bubbles which also indicated the safety of the nation and the trust of other nations. 

Tourism Minister Dr. Abdulla Mausoom. (Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

Discussions were currently underway with the United Kingdom and Singapore to establish travel bubbles. 

“Safety standards of Singapore is very high. We are in discussions to increase the safety standards so that we can establish a travel bubble. The discussions are underway.” Said the Minister.

Electronic tracing for tourists and reducing contact were some arrangements in the works by the nation. Tourists will be staying at establishments that agree to a certain high level of safety standards. 

This means that those tourists will not have to quarantine upon returning. A negative PCR test was mandated for the same purpose, said the Minister. 

“The Maldives assures that the natural geography of the nation provides safety for tourists. We can provide that guarantee. The message will come to their attention. I am sure of that.” Said the Minister.

A dedicated health insurance scheme for travelers was also being prepared, which would increase possible travelers.

The Minister also noted that the Maldivian tourism industry was close to commemorating half a century and that he was fully dedicated to reaching the goal of attaining more than 100,000 visitors. The trends and booking statistics currently indicated a steady increase in arrivals. These indications were set to continue when guesthouses reopen.

He added that no cases of tourists visiting the nation falling ill have so far been reported. This was something that would reassure travelers. 

“The Maldives has reopened, and headlines are being made that the nation is controlling COVID-19. Two months have passed since the nation reopened. No cases of tourists falling ill have been reported, despite 15,000 travelers. Tourists are hopeful with these figures. Our aim is to increase this and keep it up,”

“Those tourists that visited the nation before, very much believe that this is a safe nation. Those who are preparing to visit, do not know this. I invite them to visit and see it for themselves.” said the Minister.

Ending the interview, the Minister was very positive in stating that the difficult times experienced now, would come to pass.

“For everyone, it is a difficult time. However, we can see 2021 very brightly. Our future is very bright. We have not lost hope, better days are coming.” Said the Minister.