This beautiful island state was the go-to destination for Emiratis in 2020

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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For Emiratis, the Maldives was the most favorite travel destination in 2020.

According to travel specialists at Rehlaty, the holiday curators, the group of islands in the Indian ocean was the go-to destination for UAE residents in 2020 as it is easily accessible from the UAE.

Rehab Mansoor, general manager of Rehlaty, part of the Dnata Travel Group, said, “With a convenient four-hour flight time from Dubai, and no requirement for a PCR test ahead of returning home for UAE nationals [flying into Dubai] it’s no surprise that Maldives’ travel packages proved the top choice for travelers.”

The Maldives reopened to international tourists in July last year. Since then, Emiratis have been one of the top source markets to the islands, with more than 6,000 visitors recorded by the Maldives Immigration between Wednesday, July 15 and Thursday, December 31, 2020.

Multi-island leisure destinations seemed to be among the favourite resorts in the Maldives with Emirati travelers. Also popular were islands and hotels known for their Instagrammability or their privacy. The most popular places to stay, according to Rehlaty’s bookings, were – LUX Resorts & Hotels, Sun Siyam Resorts, Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas and Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi.

The perfect destination

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With a perfect year-round climate and naturally socially-distanced islands, the Maldives’ one-island, one-resort policy has worked in the country’s favour when it comes to controlling the coronavirus.

“On top of the regulatory measures undertaken by the government in terms of keeping tourism facilities, the airport, and means of transportation safe and in-check, the Maldives is lucky to have natural means of tackling the ongoing situation surrounding COVID-19,” said Thoyyib Mohamed, managing director of Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation.

Maldives has long been popular with travelers from the Middle East and its reopening in July saw the UAE take the lead in terms of post-lockdown arrivals. The UAE was in the top five source markets to the island nation in 2020.

A bucket-list destination for many people, the Maldives ticks boxes for a beach resort holiday, which was sought by nearly 50 percent of UAE citizens who were recently surveyed about travel by Rehlaty.

“For our Emirati community, choosing the Maldives as the ‘go-to’ travel destination for 2020 was an easy call – its luscious blue waters and pristine beaches, world-renowned resorts, adventure-filled water activities, and most importantly, hassle-free travel experience, definitely powered our choice,” said Mr. Mansoor who says the trend will continue this year.

Planning a Maldives trip? Here’s what you need to know

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There are no restrictions on travelers to the Maldives from any country so long as they can show a negative PCR test carried out within 96 hours prior to departure and have a confirmed hotel reservation for the duration of their stay.

Travelers also need to fill out a Health Declaration form and submit it online with the negative COVID-19-test results 24 hours prior to arrival. Health checks are in place at the airport with PCR tests being conducted for anyone displaying symptoms, at the cost of travelers.

Upon returning to the UAE, travelers flying into Dubai can either show a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken no more than 96 hours before departure or take a free COVID-19 PCR test on arrival at Dubai International Airport.

To Abu Dhabi, travelers need a PCR test before flying, and testing services are available in the Maldives for tourists who require them. The Maldives is not on Abu Dhabi’s green list of countries, so those flying back to Abu Dhabi will have to quarantine for 10 days upon arrival.