Maldives Foreign Secretary Abdul Ghafoor Mohamed said on Wednesday that when lockdowns were imposed all across the globe, his country had to close its borders and had no visitors.
Speaking at the WION Global summit in Dubai on Wednesday, he said that the Maldives being a ”tourism-dependent country” became a no-income country overnight,” as a result of the global lockdowns.
The Maldives opened its borders to international tourists on July 15 and lifted quarantine restrictions for tourists. Tourists can travel straight from the airport to their respective resorts without entering Male, thereby providing a safe corridor.
Nearly half the country’s 160 plus resorts have started functioning and the guesthouse industry comprising more than 800 guest houses in inhabited islands for budget-travellers.
Abdul Ghafoor Mohamed said that the Maldives was able to survive the pandemic due to its ”friendships, and partnerships with the rest of the world.”
Expressing hope for the recovery of Maldives, Abdul Ghafoor Mohamed said that the country had 500,000 tourist arrivals this year to date which is quite encouraging.”
Amid the pandemic last year, New Delhi reached out to Male with supplies of medicines, food and also sent a 14 member rapid response team consisting of doctors and paramedics. In April 2020, India launched operation Sanjeevani with an Indian air force plane airlifting 6.2 tonnes of essential medical supplies to the country. Under mission Sagar one of the Indian Navy, India reached out to 5 Indian ocean countries including the Maldives. Indian Navy Ship Kesari delivered 600 tons of food items to the Indian Ocean island country.
The pandemic had a major impact on the country’s tourism-driven economy as well. In September 2020, India extended urgent financial assistance of US$ 250 million to the Maldives through investment by SBI in the Government of Maldives bonds. That was the first assistance package of such a magnitude announced by the Indian govt to any country to deal with the COVID pandemic.
India had sent 100,000 doses of the COVISHIELD vaccine, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India to the Maldives as a gift.
The Maldives with a population of 500,000 will be benefitting from the supplies from India. The government of Maldives has proposed to purchase 300,000 doses of vaccine from the Serum Institute of India. The vaccine given by India will be used to inoculate frontline healthcare workers, the elderly, and those with co-morbidities.
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