The Airports Council International (ACI), on Tuesday, awarded accreditation status to the Velana International Airport (VIA).
Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL) revealed that VIA was the second airport in the Asia Pacific Region to be accredited under the ACI Airport Health Accreditation (AHA) programme.
Under the AHA programme, airports are assessed on the level of compliance with ACI Aviation Business Restart and Recovery guidelines as well as the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Council Aviation Restart Task Force recommendations.
All passenger areas and processes are taken into consideration during the assessment, including terminal access, check-in areas, security screening, boarding gates, lounges, retail, food and beverages, gate equipment such as boarding bridges, escalators and elevators, border control areas and facilities, baggage claim area and arrivals exit.
Maldivian authorities previously assured that adequate safety protocols are in place and at the airport, including thermal cameras, widespread social distancing measures and daily disinfecting drills.
The Maldives reopened its borders to international passengers on July 15, after nearly four months since the state halted issuing on-arrival visas on March 27.
At present holidaymakers arriving in the Maldives are required to observe social distancing measures and wear face masks in accordance with Health Protection Agency (HPA) regulations. While all passengers will undergo thermal screening, individuals with high temperatures, breathing difficulties or other symptoms will be referred to the airport clinic.
Additionally, Minister of Tourism Dr Abdulla Mausoom recently disclosed plans to mandate tourists to present a negative COVID-19 test result to enter the Maldives.
Despite the lifting of travel restrictions, Maldives has noted a significant reduction in tourist arrivals compared to pre-COVID figures, with arrivals for July 2020 representing only 1.3 per cent of those recorded in 2019.
According to the tourism ministry’s latest projections, approximately 100,000 tourists will arrive in the Maldives during the remaining months of 2020.
The restrictions on international travel significantly impacted Maldives’ heavily tourism reliant economy. In mid-April, the World Bank projected that the Maldives would be the worst-hit economy in the South Asian region due to the pandemic.
Overall, Maldives estimates a shortfall of approximately USD 450 million (MVR 6.9 billion) in foreign currency and a state deficit of MVR 13 billion in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the tourism industry.
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