The Maldives to welcome foreign travellers from July 1

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The Maldives, which is among the world's top travel destinations, will be allowing visitors again from next month. According to an official statement issued by tourism minister Ali Waheed, tourists from Asian countries such as India and China would be invited by strictly adhering to COVID-19 protocols.

Citizens of South Korea, Sri Lanka, and the Middle East nations also would be welcome, said the statement released by the Tourism Board of Maldives. However, travellers from 12 countries, including Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States, would not be given entry.

The decision of Maldives to reopen the country for tourism operations, which were suspended following the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, follows the resumption of commercial flights to the country by airlines such as Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar Airways. Travellers arriving in private and chartered aircraft, as well as cruise liners, would be allowed, added the statement.

Meanwhile, the minister said that according to the latest notification, no extra entry fees would be imposed on travellers to the Maldives. The Tourism Board had earlier suggested a hike in visa charges and landing fees.

The economy of Maldives is heavily dependent on the tourism industry, which contributes 28 per cent of the country's GDP and 60 per cent of its foreign exchange reserves. However, as part of the lockdown imposed after the spread of COVID-19, the country had closed its borders in March, bringing foreign tourist arrivals to a halt. "The country cannot be shut down for long and the tourism sector will come to life again from July 1. The detailed guidelines in this regard are being prepared by officials and members of the industry," said the minister.

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