Visit the Maldives, get the vaccine and have your holiday! Could such schemes help tourism-dependent countries recover faster?
The Maldives government calls it the “3V” strategy: Visit, Vaccinate, Vacation! Its Tourism Mnister Abdulla Mausoom believes that the idea is feasible, following a successful vaccination programme for their own residents. So far, 53% of the country’s population have received their first dose. The country is a popular holiday destination, and so has given the vaccine to those working in tourism. In that industry sector, 90% of all workers have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Maldives has a total of 530,000 residents, whose vaccinations are progressing smoothly. They believe that making vaccines available for tourists won’t slow down their residents’ own vaccinations. The country has had vaccine donations from India and China, and has ordered more from Singapore. They have also received vaccines from the World Health Organizations Covax program. But so far, it is not clear if holiday makers will have to pay to receive the vaccine.
At the moment, the country’s entry requirements include a negative PCR test and a hotel booking. This has already made them a popular destination, at least from countries that permit their own people from travelling abroad for holidays. The hope is that offering the vaccine to those arriving on holiday, will help the tourism-dependent nation to hit its visitor targets.
Is A Vaccine Holiday Realistic?
For 2021, Maldives hope to see 1.5 million visitors and 10 million overnight stays. Authorities explain that even if they reach this target it won’t be enough, for the tourism industry in Maldives to break even. However it will bring back some much-needed cash flow to the country. But for the prospect of a vaccine to attract those looking for a holiday, there are some practical issues to overcome.
For one thing, most vaccines need two doses, several weeks apart. For a tourist to get his/her vaccine, they will need to stay over for quite a long holiday. But authorities in the country think that this is not an insurmountable problem. We have already discussed ‘workations’. This is the idea of people working from their holiday, as opposed to working from home.
Before the pandemic, only self-employed people could really do this with any regularity. Even many high-level company executives would be reluctant to try it, if it was even possible. However the times we live in have made the idea not only practical, but also quite acceptable – responsible, even. Those in the hospitality industry (and air travel) hope that ‘workations’ could replace a portion of lost business travel. The latter could see pressure from Zoom, Skype and other such remote meeting tools.
But for people to get the chance for a vaccine holiday in the Maldives, first they must leave their countries. At the moment, this could be a show-stopper for many. The situation could change over the next few weeks or months, depending on the country. This is certainly something that tourism-dependant countries are monitoring closely. And we are monitoring other small countries, to see if they adopt similar initiatives!