More trips, more points: Maldives introduces loyalty program to increase tourism

While most people are familiar with rewards programs like the ones sponsored by credit card companies and fast food chains, the Maldives is on track to become the first country to offer rewards to frequent visitors.

The Asian archipelagic island country said it will launch a new program on Dec. 1.

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Essentially, travelers who visit the islands more frequently and for longer durations will rack up points, earning perks along the way. Visitors who travel to the islands to celebrate special occasions, like birthdays and anniversaries, will also earn unique points.

The program, called Maldives Border Miles, has three tiers: bronze, silver and gold.

“Each tier will be defined by a set variety of rewards, services or benefits, which increase in value as members progress,” the Maldives Immigration department said.

It’s unclear how exactly visits will be recorded and what the perks will be.

“The hotel reception is not where the tourists begin their holiday. Their awaited journey begins from the welcoming smile of the immigration officer at the border, which indeed narrates the initial chapter of a memorable vacation,” Controller General of Immigration Mohamed Ahmed Hussain said in a news release. “And with the introduction of ‘Maldives Border Miles,’ we are prepared to welcome them with privileges and facilitate an experience like never before.”

“We look forward to its successful implementation in the approaching days," Thoyyib Mohamed, managing director of Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation, said of the program.

Officials hope the initiative will bolster the country’s economy, which suffered as COVID-19 negatively impacted the tourism industry.

According to Maldives Immigration, the country recorded a record 1.7 million tourists last year.

It closed its borders on March 27 in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and reopened on July 15.

About 10,800 cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in Maldives since the onset of the pandemic, with the highest number of new cases reported in August. Thirty-four people have died in the country.

Tourists are allowed into the country with proof of negative coronavirus test results obtained within 72 hours of departure to the islands.

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