Travel advice from ABTA Magazine as tourism restarts.
A slice of paradise, the Maldives – made up of more than 1,100 coral islands formed around 26 natural atolls – is famed for its pristine beaches, turquoise lagoons and vast, colourful reefs. In May, there were 74,000 searches for ‘Maldives holidays’ in the UK – more than for any other destination– and Kuoni says it currently accounts for 56 per cent of its bookings for 2021. Chief executive Derek Jones said that the country was always its top seller, but was “soaring even further ahead” as holidaymakers look ahead to next year. If Only said its popularity was part of “sway towards those destinations which best offer bespoke touches, seclusion and the ability to social distance with ease”.
As lockdown continues to ease, the government has revealed a list of countries from which inbound tourist and returning travellers do not need to self-isolate (also known as the travel corridors list) – ending its blanket 14-day quarantine policy. However, it is not necessarily the case that Britons can enter the countries on the exemptions list without needing to quarantine, or that flights are even currently available (research suggests as little as a third of the countries can be visited without restrictions). Although firm favourites France, Spain and Italy made it on to lists revealed by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Department for Transport (DfT), the USA and Portugal were notable exceptions.
Although much has been made of the Maldives opening its borders to tourists, and the relaxation of travel between islands, the country is not on the FCO’s exemption list, meaning when returning to the UK, travellers will need to provide journey and contact details and self-isolate for 14 days. On arriving in the Maldives, screening procedures are in place for passengers, with quarantine facilities set up to isolate any suspected cases of Covid-19, according to the FCO. All non-tourist passengers arriving in Maldives by air (such as residents and returning students) are required to self-isolate for 14 days. Travellers who ignore FCO advice will not be covered by travel insurance.
Prior to lockdown, there were direct flights to Malé (average flight time: 10h 20m) from London Gatwick; there were indirect flights from Birmingham, Bristol, Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow, London City, London Gatwick, London Heathrow, London Stansted, Manchester and Newcastle.