Take a closer look at the Maldives: Faced with a new reality, we have begun to focus more on safe travel. Today, I would like to tell you why, when planning your vacation, you should take a closer look at the Maldives. Firstly, this destination has a direct flight connection, and secondly, local hoteliers make every effort to provide guests not only with a comfortable but safe stay.
How has the Maldives hospitality industry dealt with the fallout from the COVID-19 crisis?
Our industry has suffered huge losses in wanting to help, the Government of the Maldives has acted in a coordinated manner and has consistently taken measures to protect health and safety. This allowed the borders to be opened on July 15, 2020. Since then, we have seen many positive signs of a recovery in tourism in the country. It is worth noting that since opening, we have hosted a total of 27,217 tourists who arrived in the Maldives during the first three months.
In the first half of October, 8,350 inbound tourists were registered, mainly from Russia (over 2,300 arrivals), as well as a large number of tourists from Germany, the USA, India and the UAE. As the country has proven its safety, British Airways resumed direct flights on October 17, 2020 – that is, there is 1 more flight between us and the United States. In addition, effective October 22, 2020, the UK government has removed the Maldives from the list of countries from which people entering the UK had to undergo quarantine.
Then on October 27, Lufthansa resumed direct flights, while Aeroflot already operates direct flights 4 times a week. There are many positive signs and I think the Maldives will be in high demand in 2021 due to its natural isolation and of course its unconditional beauty.
What challenges has the Maldives hospitality industry faced with the COVID-19 pandemic?
The resorts had no cash flow, we had to keep the property in good condition, take care of our staff, organize the delivery of groceries and various necessary little things from abroad, and solve many other issues. However, the biggest challenge by far has been making decisions related to employment and wage cuts to keep costs steady and still be ready to resume work at some point. Not everyone was able to get through this storm and some resorts may not reopen, but many are already in operation and many will reopen to business in November.
What are the main steps taken by Finolhu to ensure the safety of guests and staff when opening in the post-pandemic period?
Seaside Finolhu has implemented a series of enhanced wellness and hygiene measures to ensure that the well-being of both guests and our team is fully protected. We have partnered with Ecolab, a global leader in hygiene and cleaning technologies and services, and have improved and expanded our cleaning procedures with additional COVID-19 protocols and best practices to reflect the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Control and Prevention diseases and local public health authorities in the Maldives.
For our food and beverage industry, all training, audits and screenings are conducted under the auspices of Nsure, a recognized leader and partner in food safety, health and safety, and sustainable development in the Maldives. Additional measures include full PPE worn by F&B staff, digital menus and placards instead of hand-crafted menus, reduced-bandwidth operations to ensure social distancing, and contactless delivery of meals to villas.
In line with the new health and safety plan, all Finolhu public areas are now being cleaned more frequently and using EPA-approved hospital products. Approved anti-covid disinfectants are applied with electrostatic aerosol sprays that provide non-contact disinfection. Our team also undergoes extensive training.
Do you think it is possible to revive travelers’ trust in hospitality and tourism in general, as it was before the pandemic?
It may not be easy to return to the same level of trust, but in the long term it will certainly recover. Many people are not overly concerned about the virus itself, but rather about medical and travel restrictions. Once these measures are cut back and eventually no longer needed, tourism will flourish again.
What does the future of the Maldives hospitality industry look like?
The future of the Maldives is bright and there may be unprecedented demand for island destinations in 2021, with many people now in desperate need of a vacation. The natural isolation of the Maldives makes it easy to manage borders and keep the country safe, while the natural beauty makes the destination an ideal destination for those seeking a reboot.
What are the latest changes that have been made by Seaside Finolhu in order to resume operations?
The resort has undergone a transformation, now we are introducing the brand new Finolhu. Our guests can relax in unobtrusively luxurious interiors. We have completed both aesthetic and functional upgrades to the resort to create a place where guests can immerse themselves and find inner peace.
The resort’s 125 villas are ready to be a place of power and reboot, a real home. In addition, guests will find concept spa treatments, various water sports, several restaurants with international cuisines and much more. Seaside Finolhu is fun. We invite everyone to us.
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