Maldives ban leaves limited global travel options for Indian tourists

Photo: Bloomberg
With Maldives out of bounds, Egypt, Russia and South Africa remain the only popular international travel options for Indian tourists amid the coronavirus pandemic. These countries do not have a quarantine requirement for Indian tourists.

On Tuesday, Maldives joined the growing list of countries banning visitors from India due to ongoing second wave of Covid-19 pandemic. The island nation has been a popular leisure destination for Indian travellers who accounted for 21 per cent of all arrivals between January-May.

“We are receiving and processing applications for all categories, including leisure tourists. The destination offers opportunities to enjoy a holiday outside of an urban environment  i.e. on safari in the many game parks or to visit rural areas that have now become very popular. Strict adherence to the health and safety protocols are maintained to limit the risk of exposure. The country is at alert level 1 and restaurants and hospitality facilities are open," said Andrea Kühn, South Africa’s consul general in Mumbai.

Among those who travelled to South Africa recently include participants of adventure reality show ‘Khatron ke Khiladi’, which is being filmed in Cape Town.

Travel industry sources, however, point out that demand for travel has slumped due to ongoing second wave of pandemic. There are non stop flights between Delhi-Moscow under an air travel bubble but flight options to Egypt and South Africa are limited.  Maharashtra government’s requirement for institutional quarantine of travellers from South Africa is another deterrent.

“There are no inquiries or overseas travel bookings for the past two weeks. People are scared to travel now. Those who were lucky, flew out to Dubai and London before imposition of the travel ban,” said Jyoti Mayal, president of Travel Agents Association of India.

Dubai which has been another popular destination curbed travel from India last month. Seychelles which earlier decided to allow only vaccinated travellers has imposed a ban for Indian visitors.

Many other countries are permitting only their own citizens or limited categories of visa holders to travel from India while some like Canada have suspended non-stop flights.

On Tuesday, the Health Protection Agency of Maldives tweeted on Tuesday that starting May 13 tourist visas for visitors from South Asian countries will be temporarily halted.

The safety measure has been put in place in view of second wave of pandemic in India and rise in cases in other countries in the region. A curfew too has been imposed in parts of Maldives and congregational prayers in mosques have been temporarily stopped.

The island nation has been a major attraction for celebrities and commoners alike from India and was among the very few international destinations that were open to Indian tourists from year.

India has been the second largest source market for Maldives. The islands have received over 400,000 tourists since start of January. Russia has been the biggest source market followed by India, Ukraine, Germany and Kazakhstan.

Last month the Maldives government imposed curbs on Indian visitors by banning their entry on populated islands. However, Indians could still visit the resorts. The second wave of pandemic however led to drop of traffic from India, resulting in flight cancellations by Indian carriers.

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel