The list of countries banning or restricting travel from India continues to grow as the country battles a second wave. Popular tourist destination Maldives has also changed its rules for Indian travelers to protect its population. However, despite some confusion, travelers from India are still free to visit the island destination. Here’s a look at the new rules.

Still open

On Sunday, 25th April, the Maldives Ministry of Tourism updated its travel guidance to suspend Indian visitors from staying on “inhabited islands.” This decision was seen by many as a de facto travel ban, preventing Indians from flying into the country.

However, the mix-up was quickly clarified by the Ministry itself. Since the country is an archipelago, scores of resorts are located on their own “uninhabited islands.” That means that some of the most popular resorts can continue to accept tourists in line with the current testing and vaccination requirements.

Additionally, hotels and resorts in secluded areas of inhabited islands are exempt from the new rules. This effectively means that some Maldivian islands are closed to Indian travelers, but many others remain open to tourists. This does limit hotel options for travelers but does not constitute a travel ban in any way, as many assumed.

Entry requirements

Now that we know the Maldives is still open to tourists from India, let’s find out the new entry requirements. Passengers traveling from India must have the following documentation:

  • A negative RT-PCR test with a sample taken no later than 96 hours before arrival in the country.
  • Those who are fully vaccinated with a WHO-approved vaccine will also need to bring a negative test report under the new rules.

For now, the entry requirements largely remain unchanged for travelers from India. The only addition is the testing requirement for fully vaccinated individuals. While vaccines are extremely effective in preventing severe infection, travelers may still be carriers of the disease. This means testing is likely here to stay for the foreseeable future until cases begin to fall.

One of the last

For Indians who are fortunate enough to travel during the current crisis, the options are quite limited.  Dozens of countries, from the UAE to Canada, have either banned travel altogether or added strict new conditions. This means there are few options for travelers from India currently, with the Maldives being one notable exception.

While the Maldives’ decision might seem surprising to many, there is a reason behind it. The first is that India has become the largest market for tourists in the last year due to the convenience of flying to the country. Banning travel would mean tourist arrivals fall substantially, hurting the economy.

Secondly, the Maldives has managed to vaccinate a large part of its population, especially tourism workers. Given the lower risk thanks to vaccines, the country is open to welcoming travelers despite the record high cases in India.

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