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How Maldives got the world to its shores by making visa practically free for all

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There is much fury amongst Indian citizens at this juncture following Maldivian politicians’ derogatory remarks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Everyone wants to ‘boycott’ the Maldives and has been championing and promoting Lakshadweep, an archipelago and India’s smallest Union Territory.

While the Maldives vs Lakshadweep debate continues, there’s no denying that once upon a time we were bewitched by the archipelagic nation’s picturesque beaches and landscape.

It was a hot favourite travel destination not just for Indians but beach lovers from all across the world. NGL, it was a hit among Bollywood celebrities too. But have you thought about what did the trick for the Maldives?

Altering visa policy for the biggest tourism markets

Thanks to Maldives’s smooth visa-free/visa-on-arrival policy, the country managed to bring the world to its doorstep and upped its tourism and hospitality game within a few years.

Tourism is the largest industry in the Maldives, accounting for 28 per cent of the GDP and more than 60 per cent of the Maldives’s foreign exchange receipts.

The country allows visa-free entry to passport holders of India, Russia, China and Kazakhstan. By making a few changes in its visa policies for these countries, Maldives made sure the most populous nations of the world have easy access to the island nation.

Other than a few prerequisites like – a valid passport, hotel booking, return ticket, and sufficient funds – the country has no stringent rules for tourists of these nationalities.

A no-cost visitor visa is valid for 30 days which is issued upon arrival and this can be extended up to 90 days maximum. This step revived Maldives’ tourism massively.

Visa on arrival for tourists from all over the world

While visa is free for tourists arriving from India, Russia, China and Kazakhstan, others can access the visa-on-arrival facility. Of course, you need to meet their entry requirements.

Maldives opened its shore to tourists during the pandemic

As countries around the world grappled with lockdowns and travel restrictions, the Maldives made a bold move to keep its shores open to the world by offering practically visa-free entry to all.

This policy of visa on arrival for everyone has been a cornerstone in the nation’s tourism strategy, ensuring that the allure of its idyllic islands remains accessible to travellers in every corner of the globe.

When the pandemic brought the world to a standstill, the Maldives saw an opportunity to redefine its tourism narrative.

In March 2020, the country closed its borders for three months to contain the spread of Covid-19. However, unlike many other destinations, the Maldives swiftly reopened to international visitors in July 2020, implementing strict hygiene protocols and launching one of the fastest vaccination campaigns worldwide.

This proactive stance not only restored traveller confidence, but also attracted high-value consumers looking for safe and secluded getaways. Therefore, the tourism boom happened during the pandemic.

Spot-on marketing campaign during the pandemic

The Maldivian government’s efforts to attract tourists during the pandemic were multifaceted. They capitalised on the country’s unique geographical features, which naturally facilitated social distancing with isolated resort islands that catered perfectly to the new demand for privacy and seclusion.

The marketing campaign “Isolation never looked this good” resonated with those yearning for an escape from the confines of lockdown life.

Moreover, the Maldives identified new tourist markets, tapping into emerging sources like Russia and India, which helped compensate for the loss of visitors from traditional markets such as China.

Celebrity/Influencer collaborations

Time and again, luxury resorts and hotels in the island nation have pulled in celebrities and influencers to endorse their magnificent properties.

The strategy is part of a larger influencer marketing trend where hoteliers collaborate with social media personalities to reach wider audiences and generate more leads.

The Maldives government and local businesses have recognised its power, inviting them to stay at resorts and share their experiences online.

These collaborations are not only about promoting the hotels but also about inspiring potential travellers through high-resolution social appearances and authentic experiences shared by influencers.

The impact of influencers and celebrity promotions on tourism in the Maldives has been profound, driving the growth of luxury resorts and boosting the nation’s economy.

Social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok play a significant role, accounting for 32% of travel influence factors, surpassing traditional travel agents.

Be it Disha Patani, Kiara Advani or Shah Rukh Khan, their vacay posts managed to influence millions on social media. 

Paradise for tourists

When you are travelling to a new destination outside your country for the first time, the first challenge is to navigate your way to the hotel.

In the Maldives, that bit is taken care of by the hotel authorities with whom you have booked your stay.

Upon arriving at Velana International Airport in Malé, Maldives, you have several options to reach your hotel, depending on its location.

For resorts close to Malé, a speedboat transfer is the most common and quickest method, with boats leaving directly from the airport. Speedboats operate 24/7 and are often included in your hotel package.

If your resort is situated on a more distant atoll, a seaplane transfer may be necessary. Seaplanes offer breathtaking aerial views of the Maldivian archipelago.

The seaplanes are usually part of your hotel package and the staff take care of everything, making your trip to the hotel hassle-free.

The Maldives’s journey to becoming a haven for tourists is proof of its innovative policies and adaptability in the face of adversity.

By allowing nationals of all countries to receive a 30-day visa free of charge upon arrival, the Maldives removed one of the significant barriers to international travel.

Instagram, for that matter, bears testimony to the numerous Maldivian travel stories.

source by: India Today News

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