The Maldives will soon offer visitors vaccinations upon arrival as part of their three-pronged initiative to revive the country’s hard-hit travel sector, according to its tourism minister.

The “3V” strategy, which encourages tourists to “visit, vaccinate and vacation,” will provide a “more convenient” way to visit the country, Abdulla Mausoom told CNBC on Wednesday.

Currently, visitors to the Maldives must provide a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test and proof of hotel reservation to enter. Mausoom said the country’s Health Protection Agency would make an announcement on the unrestricted entry of vaccinated arrivals “very soon – maybe even this week.”

The Maldives, an archipelago state in South Asia renowned for its tropical beaches and crystal-clear waters, depend heavily on its tourism industry. About 67% of its gross domestic product (GDP) comes directly and indirectly from the sector.

The Minister of Tourism would not be pushed on a schedule for the rollout of visitor vaccination. He noted that the government’s priority is to ensure that the entire resident population receives their first and second vaccines first.

However, once this process is completed, the country will be ready to vaccinate the arrivals, he said.

I don’t think supply is a problem in the Maldives because our population is relatively small.

Abdulla Mausoom

Minister of Tourism, Maldives

To date, about 53% of the island nation’s roughly 530,000 residents have received their first dose, according to the Reuters vaccination tracker. Some 90% of frontline tourism staff have received their first dose, Mausoom said.

Mausoom did not say whether newcomers would have to pay for their shots, but said supply would not be an issue.

He said the country has received donations of vaccines from India, China and the World Health Organization’s Covax program, which aims to ensure vaccines are distributed fairly and equitably. The Maldives have also ordered additional supplies from Singapore, he said.

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

White sand and clear waters in the Maldives.

image alliance | Getty Images

Mausoom said the tourism campaign was a necessary strategy to help the country meet its goal of 1.5 million tourist arrivals and 10 million overnight stays this year.

“When we reach this year’s target, we will still have a shortage of what the country needs,” he said. “But it’s still a lot better than what we expected at the end of 2020.”

Work – working from the Maldives has become very trendy. You see very wealthy executives, corporate executives, come here and they’re based here.

Abdulla Mausoom

Minister of Tourism, Maldives

Already this year, the Maldives received 350,000 arrivals, as holidaymakers – mostly from neighboring India – take advantage of the country’s limited entry requirements.

Meanwhile, guests book longer stays, many using the islands as a destination for what’s called “work” – or working vacations. Mausoom said he hopes this will continue, with tourists staying to receive their first and second doses.

“Work – working from the Maldives is becoming very trendy now,” he said. “You see very wealthy executives, corporate executives, come here and they’re based here.”