They won’t just be for airlines and hotels anymore – Maldives is on track to become the first country in the world to have its own hospitality loyalty program.
The Maldives Border Miles program will reportedly have three tiers: Abaarana (Gold), Antara (Silver) and Aida (Bronze). The three names all come from Divehi, the Indian Ocean nation’s primary local language.
Maldives Immigration, an official government-run Twitter account, made an announcement on September 28: “Maldives Border Miles is a three-tiered loyalty program for tourists. Tourists will earn points based on the number of visits and duration of stay. Additional points will be awarded for visits to celebrate special occasions.”
But how will travelers respond to this first-of-its-kind initiative? Some of that will depend on how global travel looks after the Covid-19 pandemic.
Maldives, whose economy is heavily dependent on the tourism and hospitality industries, was one of the first countries in Asia to reopen its borders. Visitors began slowly returning in July.
One travel industry expert thinks the idea could have long-term potential.
“It is perhaps the most innovative move by a country’s tourism board since Iceland’s ‘free stopover en route to Europe’ program,” Scott Keyes, founder of the Scott’s Cheap Flights newsletter, tells CNN Travel.
“Most tourism boards focus solely on glitzy ad campaigns and Photoshopped spreads, but this campaign from Maldives is both new and unique.”
A representative for Maldives’ national tourism board tells CNN Travel that the program will be implemented in December 2020. It’s not yet clear what kinds of perks travelers in these three categories will get and how the points will be accumulated.
As a luxury destination, Maldives hotel rates can be pricey, but a points system could potentially balance out some of these costs with upgrades and freebies.
Maldives isn’t alone on the list of destinations who have had to get creative following the global coronavirus crisis.
The Caribbean islands of Anguilla, Barbados and Aruba are all offering extended visas to people looking for a prettier place to work remotely, and the Faroe Islands set up a website where wannabe visitors could “remote-control” a local sightseer.