2020 was nothing short of a nightmare for travel enthusiasts. With a lockdown in place, people were forced into virtual house arrest and a vacation was ruled out for the better part of the year.
Many heaved a sigh of relief when Unlock 5.0 arrived. While some decided to take a jaunt within the country, the Instagram profiles of a slew of celebrities were filled with photos from their vacation in Maldives, putting the island nation in the spotlight.
Samantha Akkineni, Katrina Kaif, Varun Dhawan, Rakul Preet Singh, Kajal Aggarwal, Tiger Shroff and Disha Patani have all visited the island nation in the last few weeks. But, why is there so much buzz around 'Treasure Island'?
With limited options available for holidaying amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Maldives has become the destination of choice for many.
Should Maldives be on the shortlist for your next vacation? Here are some questions for starters. Is Maldives COVID free? What are the travel arrangements between India and Maldives? What's the visa process? Is it safe to visit amid the coronavirus pandemic? What's the quarantine procedure? Let's find out.
Maldives has reported over 13,000 coronavirus cases so far and there are about 500 active cases in the nation (as of December 28, 2020). So, it is not free from the virus. But, is it safe? Yes. Maldives' signature 'one island, one resort' arrangement makes it a comparatively safe holiday destination.
Thanks to the Air Bubble initiative that was introduced in August, passenger flights are being operated between India and Maldives in a major boost for tourism. The 30-day free visa upon arrival is a huge breather. Though visitors do not require a pre-approved visa, a COVID-19 negative certificate is mandatory. The PCR test should be conducted 96 hours prior to the scheduled time of departure. However, there's no quarantine upon arrival unless the passenger shows any symptoms. Additionally, tourists are encouraged to install 'TraceEkee,' a contact tracing app. Maldives is your best bet if you want to enjoy your vacation while in isolation.
For its part, the Maldives tourism board is leaving no stone unturned in welcoming tourists. And what campaign could be better than word of mouth! Digital Marketing Consultant Sorav Jain, 'Thinker-in-Chief' at echoVME, believes that the rush of celebrities to Maldives is for two reasons -- scarcity of tourist destinations and influencer marketing.
"I think it's two things. Maldives tourism board would have definitely offered a few celebrities in our country a free stay, free travel and all of that. So, it is an influencer campaign. I also believe that it's not just the influencers or celebrities but many others are choosing Maldives because it's the only available option," says Jain.
Influencer marketing may be the second most talked about term in 2020 after COVID. The majority of Instagram users would've come across at least one post that is part of an influencer outreach programme. Even Emily from 'Emily in Paris' would agree. The Netflix show offered us a peek into the life of a marketer with a few insights on influencers. Personal branding comes into play in this type of social media campaign. 'Visit Maldives,' the nation's tourism board, has been tapping into the Indian market with several marketing campaigns.
Locked inside our homes, glued to our gadgets, 2020 has truly been a digital year as most of the services we availed were just one tap away. Influencers made the most out of it. Jain believes that influencer marketing is here to stay.
"Influencer marketing has been there since 2017. But in 2020, influencers got a greater voice and a lot more things to do because people spent more time listening to them. It is the right time for people to turn influencers and brands to get associated with them. There's only one advertisement you can run on TV or newspapers according to the budget. But with the same budget, you can work with thousands of influencers and create thousands of creative stuff with your own products and services which gives you a huge scope for user generated content and getting millions of impressions in the most creative way," he explains.
Can influencer marketing be anyone's cup of tea? Well, if your creative juices are flowing, you're good to go. "Many people try their hands at acting but only those who are skilled make it big. Everyone gets into influencer marketing thinking they can make money. But it's not just about having an Instagram profile and a few hundred followers. It's about how you connect meaningfully and build a community out of your audience, narrate stories, invest in upgrading your skills like photo/video editing, creatively add music and try to come up with super cool content under 30 seconds. I think it is not just about becoming an Instagram influencer but it is about becoming an influencer that the brand would die to work with," he concludes.
So, who's in a Maldives state of mind?