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Even where the situation is improving, a slow recovery in tourism may have long-term impacts, including through business closures and delayed investment in physical infrastructure, such as hotels, restaurants, and transport.

A slow recovery may also depreciate and hinder investment in human capital in the industry. Speeding up the return of international tourists is thus an important policy objective, particularly for tourism-dependent economies.

Valuable lessons can be learned from the experience of the last two years. Tourist arrivals are only recovering where mandatory quarantines were lifted early on. Maldives, for example, reopened to international travel in July 2020, ahead of other Asian destinations.

A rapid vaccination campaign boosted confidence in visiting Maldives as 80% of tourism-sector employees were fully vaccinated by mid-2021. As a result, tourist arrivals were back to pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year.

The early removal of mandatory quarantines also led to increasing arrivals in Armenia, Georgia, and Sri Lanka.

A version of this article appears in the print on May 03, 2022, of The Himalayan Times.