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The idyllic South Asian destination of the Maldives plans on launching a tourism campaign to vaccinate visitors upon their arrival, the country's tourism minister, Abdulla Mausoom, told CNBC yesterday.
He revealed that the Maldives will embark upon what he called a "3V" program, which will invite travelers to "visit, vaccinate and vacation". The initiative is aimed at revitalizing the small, tourism-reliant country's travel sector, which normally brings in roughly 67 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP), either directly or indirectly.
Mausoom could not supply a solid timeline for the implementation of this visitor vaccination effort, but he emphasized that the government's priority is ensuring that the entire resident population gets inoculated before moving ahead with the new tourism initiative.
"The main idea of tourism being open is to provide a reasonably safe tourism [experience] with minimum inconvenience," he said, according to Travel + Leisure. "So, once the country gets vaccinated, then we will move on to '3V' tourism."
Thus far, 51.5 percent of Maldivians have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 4.8 percent are fully vaccinated, according to Reuters' global tracker. This includes 90 percent of the country's frontline tourism workers, the minister pointed out.
Mausoom did not delve into details, such as whether or not travelers would be expected to pay for their inoculations, but did indicate that he believed there would be an ample vaccine supply to answer the purpose.
"I don't think supply's a problem in Maldives because our population is relatively small," the tourism minister said. "The quota we get from the various organizations and friendly nations also will help."
Mausoom reported that the Maldives has received donations of vaccines from India, China, and the World Health Organization's Covax program, which seeks to ensure that vaccine supplies are fairly distributed around the globe. Additional supplies are also on order from Singapore, he said.
While multiple countries have announced that they will welcome fully immunized foreign visitors, the Maldives would be the world's first to offer vaccinations as part of an international vacation.
Currently, travelers to the Maldives are required to provide negative results of a COVID-19 PCR test taken within 96 hours of boarding the first leg of their flight and hold a confirmed hotel reservation on the archipelago in order to enter.
Laurie Baratti is a San Diego-based journalist whose work has previously appeared in publications like TravelAge West, SPACE,...
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