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Unvaccinated? The Maldives’ New Tourist Program Will Put a Shot in Your Arm When You Land

A slight pinch and then off to the beach—this is vacationing in 2021.

Maldives Ahmed Yaaniu/Unsplash

Considering a vacation but not sure you’ll be able to lock in a vaccine appointment before you book? If you’re dreaming of the Maldives, the islands have you covered.

To stay in line with its goal of welcoming 1.5 million tourists in 2021, the island nation is implementing a program to vaccinate visitors on arrival. Abdulla Mausoom, the country’s tourism minister, told CNBC that the initiative is called 3V: “visit, vaccinate and vacation.” While the tropical paradise has been open to travelers from the United States and elsewhere since July 2020, visitors have been required to arrive with a negative Covid-19 PCR test taken within 96 hours of their departure—and a confirmed hotel booking, of course.


Aerial view of the lush island and surrounding water.  Shaah Shahidh/Unsplash

Although there’s no firm timeline for when the island will begin vaccinating tourists, Mausoon said that the process won’t start until all Maldivian residents are vaccinated. So far, roughly 51.5 percent of the island’s population has received at least one dose of the vaccine and 4.8 percent has been fully vaccinated—according to Reuters’ global vaccine tracking. “I don’t think supply is a problem in Maldives because our population is relatively small,” Mausoom said, noting that India, China and the World Health Organization’s Covax program have all contributed to the Maldives’ vaccine stores. “The quota we get from the various organizations and friendly countries also will help.”


A beachside sunset on the island.  Luca Dal Molin/Unsplash


This isn’t the only program designed to put travelers at ease, but it is the first nation to develop such an initiative. Last month, the Rosewood Baha Mar announced that it would fly guests home on a private jet for free if they contracted Covid during their stay. And a number of aviation operators have worked with yacht charter companies to create “private jet bubbles” to insulate flyers against infection. With more and more destinations opening to foreign travelers, it’s increasingly clear that the jet set is confident enough—and looking forward—to getting vacations on the calendar.

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