Direct flights between Kazakhstan and the Republic of Maldives will resume today on Kazakh air carrier Air Astana.
Tourism accounts for 28% of GDP and contributes approximately 60% of foreign exchange receipts to the Maldives, resulting in heavy economic losses during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Maldives is a majorly desired destination for Kazakh tourists. Before travel, all passengers will be required to submit a negative PCR test result, as well as complete a traveler health declaration.
Kazakh air authorities authorized nonstop service to sixteen countries in September, after suspending most international flights from Kazakhstan and placing restrictions on border crossing, including restrictions for Kazakh citizens. According to Kazakh Health Minister Alexey Tsoy, 65% of the eligible population in Kazakhstan have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and the case rate has gone down by 36% since the virus’s peak in mid-August.
Assuming borders remain fully open, at least 1.1 million tourists are expected to visit the islands in 2021, and the Maldives’ economy is expected to grow by 22.3%. While the Maldives remained open throughout the pandemic, flight restrictions from other countries heavily impaired its tourism-reliant economy. Expect the Maldivian government to push for more accessible international links to the islands.
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Nastia is a research analyst on the Current Developments team. She focuses on the former USSR region, specializing in security, Russian and Eurasian affairs.