"These past seven years we have traveled to the Maldives. To various resorts. We were afraid we could not visit the Maldives this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But we did not want to travel to any other destination, so we came back as soon as the borders re-opened".
These are the sentiments of a Ukrainian couple shared with "ONE", after arriving in the Maldives following the border reopening to conclude a long hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though their journey to the Maldives was long and tiring, the couple looked ecstatic to have been able to come back to their favorite destination once again.
This was a feeling that was reflected on all 104 passengers who arrived in the Maldives on a Qatar Airways flight on July 15th, which was the first flight to operate to the island nation after the country reopened its borders. They all had forgotten about the tiring journey and were enjoying the happiness of the moment, of landing in the Maldives. Celebratory moments were shared between husbands and wives, their children, and families alike, even at the arrival gate. The flight even saw surfers who had longed to conquer the raging waves of the Maldives finally arrive in paradise on Earth.
A middle-aged Ukranian couple revealed to "ONE" that they learnt about the border reopening through the internet. They added that their summers are always spent in the Maldives, where they stay for two weeks each year.
"We were planning to visit the Maldives even before COVID-19 happened. That is our dream," the woman who had come to stay at Paradise Island Resort said. With regards to the safety measures implemented at the airport due to COVID-19, she said that none of them were a hassle and that the preparations were satisfactory.
A Spanish couple who is visiting the Maldives for the first time also shared how happy they were to finally visit the Maldives, as they had been planning the trip for quite some time.
"We found out about the border reopening through Twitter. I will give a 100% for the safety of Maldives. I will definitely recommend all my friends to visit the Maldives too," the Spanish man who was wearing a face shield said.
Visiting the Maldives is indeed the dream of many. In fact, Maldives was one of the most searched destinations during the COVID-19 pandemic. A survey had also shown that most European tourists want to visit the Maldives for their holidays next year.
The survey conducted by a British tour operator revealed that tourists from the UK, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and Italy had searched for information about the Maldives most.
A survey conducted by Condé Nast Travellers in India, 38 percent of Indian tourists want to visit the Maldives when borders reopen. The survey also showed that most Indian tourists want to travel privately to avoid long queues and crowds at the airport during the current situation.
Even though the Maldives reopened its borders and are now welcoming tourists, this is the time to be most careful. Despite the border reopening, current estimates show that tourist arrivals for the next three months will decrease by 50 percent. The industry is expected to kick start around September.
Hence, if the safety measures during the new normal are given a careless ear, it would be difficult for the country to overcome the challenges that will arise from that. This is the time for all of us to acknowledge and fully obey our own social responsibilities. It's time for us to understand how critical the situation really is.