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Interview

Western tourists shrug off COVID fears to play in the Maldives

Sunseekers stay longer, unhappy with pandemic response at home, minister says

Tourists walk along a beach on Vihamanafushi Island in the Maldives in 2012.   © Reuters

COLOMBO -- The Maldives' gamble to open borders in mid-July has begun to reap small but promising returns as international airlines arrive with Western tourists seeking a reprieve from the life-sapping grip of the pandemic to laze at the country's luxury resorts.

By mid-October, some 26,500 high-spending holidaymakers had touched down in the Indian Ocean nation, up from 1,767 during the second half of July. Travelers from Russia, the U.S., Britain, Spain, Germany and France are among the top 10 countries comprising this tourism revival, according to the ministry of tourism. Others have come from the United Arab Emirates, Brazil and India, the only Asian nation on the list.

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