Maldives was the most popular destination for Emiratis to travel to in 2020.
Easily reachable from the UAE, the Indian Ocean archipelago was the go-to destination for UAE citizens last year, according to travel specialists at Rehlaty.
"With a convenient four-hour flight time from Dubai, and no requirement for a PCR test ahead of returning home for UAE nationals [flying into Dubai] it's no surprise that Maldives' travel packages proved the top choice for travellers," said Rehab Mansoor, general manager at Rehlaty, part of the dnata Travel Group.
The Maldives reopened to international tourists in July 2020. Since then, Emiratis have been one of the top source markets to the islands, with more than 6,000 visitors recorded by the Maldives Immigration between July 15 and December 31.
Top 4 Maldives resorts for Emirati travellers
Multi-island leisure destinations seemed to be among the favourite resorts in the Maldives with Emirati travellers. Also popular were islands and hotels known for their Instagrammability or their privacy. The most popular places to stay, according to Rehlaty's bookings, were:
- LUX* Resorts & Hotels
- Sun Siyam Resorts
- Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas
- Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi
With a perfect year-round climate and naturally socially-distanced islands, the Maldives' one-island, one-resort policy has worked in the country's favour when it comes to controlling the coronavirus.
"On top of the regulatory measures undertaken by the government in terms of keeping tourism facilities, the airport, and means of transportation safe and in-check, the Maldives is lucky to have natural means of tackling the ongoing situation surrounding Covid-19," said Thoyyib Mohamed, managing director of Maldives Marketing & Public Relations Corporation.
The archipelago has long been popular with travellers from the Middle East and its reopening in July saw the UAE take the lead in terms of post-lockdown arrivals. The UAE was in the top five source markets to the island nation in 2020.
A bucket-list destination for many people, the Maldives ticks boxes for a beach resort holiday, which was sought by nearly 50 per cent of UAE citizens recently surveyed about travel by Rehlaty.
"For our Emirati community, choosing the Maldives as the 'go-to' travel destination for 2020 was an easy call – its luscious blue waters and pristine beaches, world-renowned resorts, adventure-filled water activities, and most importantly, hassle-free travel experience, definitely powered our choice," says Mansoor, who adds the trend will continue this year.
Who can travel to the Maldives?
There are no restrictions on travellers to the Maldives from any country, so long as they can show a negative PCR test carried out within 96 hours prior to departure and have a confirmed hotel reservation for the duration of their stay.
Travellers also need to fill out a health declaration form and submit it online with the negative Covid-19-test results 24 hours prior to arrival. Health checks are in place at the airport with PCR tests being conducted for anyone displaying symptoms, at the cost of travellers.
Upon returning to the UAE, travellers flying into Dubai can either show a negative Covid-19 PCR test taken no more than 96 hours before departure or take a free Covid-19 PCR test on arrival at Dubai International Airport.
To Abu Dhabi, travellers need a PCR test before flying, and testing services are available in the Maldives for tourists who require them. The Maldives is not on Abu Dhabi's green list of countries, so those flying back to Abu Dhabi will have to quarantine for 10 days upon arrival.