Maldives explosion: tourists must ‘stay alert’ when visiting Indian Ocean islands

An explosion in the Maldives’ capital, Malé, on Thursday evening, which injured the former president and current speaker of parliament Mohamed Nasheed, 53, was condemned by the international community and described as “a worrying development” for the country.

With the site of the explosion near the home of Nasheed, who is being treated for several injuries, in the Neeloafaru Magu neighborhood, less than 15 minutes from the city’s main international airport, where does that leave tourists?

Should tourists to the Maldives be worried?

Velana International Airport is still functioning normally, with flights from Dubai, Istanbul and Singapore having already landed safely on Friday morning.

Maldivian police secured the scene of the blast and urged the public to refrain from visiting the area. Closed roads are in place.

The UK government’s advice for foreign travelers says travelers should “remain vigilant and follow the instructions of local authorities”.

Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih condemned “the attack on the country’s democracy and economy” and said Australian police would help with the investigation.

“We are taking this issue with the utmost seriousness,” he said.

Police in the Maldives have urged the public to contact them if they have any information about the blast.

Tourism and terrorism in the Maldives

The Maldives are known for their luxury resort islands, but have suffered rare violent attacks. In 2007, an explosion in a park in the capital injured 12 foreign tourists.

However, it is still a popular travel hotspot with travelers around the world, and the Indian Ocean archipelago was the Emirati’s top destination in 2020, according to travel specialists Rehlaty.

“With a convenient four hour flight time from Dubai, and no requirement for a PCR test before returning home for UAE nationals [flying into Dubai] it’s no surprise that maldives travel packages have proven to be the first choice of travelers, ”said Rehab Mansoor, managing director of Rehlaty, part of the dnata Travel group.

Tourists from the UAE fly to Male, then take a short speedboat or seaplane ride to another island.

Travel to the Maldives in the Covid pandemic

The Maldives has been a particularly popular destination amid the pandemic as it has a strict one resort per island policy, which allows for greater social distancing. The country has also announced plans to offer tourists the Covid-19 vaccine in a greater effort for tourism.

He also launched the I’m vaccinated campaign, with the goal of having the first fully vaccinated tourist workforce.

Most of the islands are open to tourism, but visitors are not allowed to explore Male, as the capital is the site of the highest number of Covid-19 cases and remains largely off-limits.

Maldives immigration authorities on Thursday reported an average of 3,040 passenger arrivals per day in April.

All tourists traveling to the Maldives need a negative PCR test result, taken no more than 96 hours before travel (for travelers from India, the time limit is 72 hours and there are also restrictions at the registration sites for Indian tourists).

The latest update from the Maldives Ministry of Tourism confirms that all travelers, including those who have received one or both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, must also show PCR test results and only babies under of 1 year are exempt.

Travelers must submit their test result and a Travel Health Declaration form must be completed 24 hours prior to travel. If you wish to distribute your stay between several resorts, you must request authorization from the Ministry of Tourism at least 48 hours in advance.

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