Maldives Opens To Vaccinated Tourists, Will Offer Vaccines On Arrival

The Maldives has lifted testing requirements for vaccinated travelers, and is preparing to offer ‘vaccine on arrival’ in a bid to boost tourism. Most of the world is far behind Israel, the U.S. and U.K. in vaccination, so this may become an attractive reason to visit from many parts of the world.

Given the strong neutralizing benefits of some vaccines against Covid-19 such as Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, travelers vaccinated with these vaccines are highly unlikely to be carriers of the virus.

It should be noted though that the neutralizing effectiveness of some other vaccines either hasn’t been sufficiently studied or may not be as great. However 90% of tourism workers in the Maldives are vaccinated in any case so the risk of visitors spreading the virus into the country are low, and most activities are outdoors.

It’s not clear how this new policy applies to one-dose regimens such as that specified by Johnson & Johnson (efficacy data for one dose of J&J appears more promising than for two doses of Sinovac’s Coronavac vaccine). And testing requirements would still apply to unvaccinated visitors, including children accompanying vaccinated parents.

However anyone that isn’t vaccinated because of limited supplies in their own country will soon have a new reason to visit the Maldives: the country is preparing to offer vaccination on arrival.

With 90% of tourism workers, and over half the country (not just half the population of adults), vaccinated to some degree the Maldives is looking forward to having excess supply which they’ll invest in the tourism sector by promoting the 3 V’s: “visit, vaccinate, and vacation.” As much as two-thirds of the country’s GDP is derived directly or indirectly from tourism.

Located in the Indian Ocean, both China and India have jockeyed for influence in the Maldives, and that’s helped with vaccine access. The primary vaccine being used is the version of AstraZeneca-Oxford being produced by the Serum Institute in India.

Vaccine tourism has already started to the U.A.E., India and Morocco and packages have been advertised to the U.K. A trip to the Maldives for an AstraZeneca shot may appeal to Russians who prefer to avoid Sputnik V, Chinese looking for something more effective than Coronavac, or wealthy residents of Asia generally whose countries’ vaccination programs lag behind elsewhere in the world.

It’s unclear at what price vaccines will be offered, or if – following the opportunity to redeem Hawaiian Airlines miles or American Airlines miles for a Covid test – it’ll be possible to use the country’s ‘Border Miles Rewards’ for a coronavirus jab.

(HT: God Save The Points)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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