A new travel incentive: Maldives to offer COVID-19 vaccine shots to lure tourists back

Apr 16, 2021

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

In case lush white-sand beaches and crystal-clear waters aren’t enough of an incentive, the Maldives is offering visitors a new perk: vaccines on arrival.

The island nation in South Asia is believed to be the first country to offer vaccines for visitors as part of its “3V Program” — visit, vaccinate, vacation — to help revive tourism.

Sign up to receive the daily TPG newsletter for more travel news!

An official start date is expected soon, but the vaccinations are seen as crucial for helping the Maldives, a bucket-list destination for many travelers, rebound after the pandemic devastated the tourism industry.

Related: Where to stay in the Maldives using points and miles

During an interview with CNBC, the country’s tourism minister Abdulla Mausoom emphasized that the new vaccine program for visitors will not come at the expense of Maldives locals.

So far, about 53% of the country’s 530,000 residents have gotten their first dose of the vaccine, according to Reuters. About 90% of the frontline workers in the tourism industry there have also received at least the first shot, according to the tourism chief.

No word yet if travelers will have to pay for the vaccine, but supply doesn’t appear to be a problem. The country has received vaccine donations from India, China and the World Health Organization’s Covax initiative, which aims to ensure that vaccines are fairly and equitably distributed. The Maldives has also ordered additional supplies from Singapore.

“I don’t think supply’s a problem in Maldives because our population is relatively small,” Mausoom said. “The quota we get from the various organizations and friendly nations also will help.”

Related: Maldives to become first country with its own loyalty program

Tourism is incredibly important to the country’s bottom line, accounting for roughly 67% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The vaccine program is part of an effort to help the island nation achieve its modified goal of having 1.5 million visitors by the end of the year. Hitting that target would still be below pre-pandemic numbers.

The Maldives reopened to visitors last July, including travelers from the U.S., but tourism has been slow to rebound. So far in 2021, 350,000 travelers have arrived, the bulk coming from India looking to take advantage of The Maldives’ limited entry requirements. Visitors still must present a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken with 96 hours of arrival. The country is set to make an announcement soon that vaccinated travelers will be permitted to enter without restriction.

Related: How far is too far? The murky, uncharted waters of vaccine tourism

Featured photo by levente bodo/Getty Images.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at US restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
  • Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.