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How the Maldives became the biggest 2020 international tourism success story

How the Maldives became the biggest 2020 international tourism success story

(CNN) — The Maldives, an Indian Ocean island archipelago practically synonymous with romance, normally sees north of 1.7 million visitors per year. In 2020, it had around 500,000. And despite the significant decrease, it marks one of the most successful tourism stories amid the pandemic.

While many other destinations slammed their borders closed, the Maldives chose to fully reopen to travelers from any country, regardless of the status of the virus there, in July 2020.

The tourism contributes 28% of the Maldives's GDP, one of the highest totals in the world.

The country's geography also lends itself well to coronavirus protocols. Many hotels and resorts are on their own private islands -- there are more than a thousand to choose from, even before man-made islands come into the equation -- which makes isolating and social distancing exceptionally easy.

Thoyyib Mohamed, the managing director of the Maldives Marketing & PR Corporation, the country's national tourism authority says that the country received a total number of 555,494 visitors in 2020, surpassing their adjusted arrival forecast of 500,000 arrivals by the end of 2020.