Maldives to develop another five airports to boost tourism

Maldives has announced plans to develop an additional five domestic airports in a bid to boost the island nation’s tourism industry which relies heavily on the transport infrastructure.

Tourism minister Moosa Zameer told the country’s diplomatic corps gathered in capital Male for a rare conference on Wednesday that developing the transport infrastructure was a major goal of the government. Agreements would be signed soon for the development of another five domestic airports, he added.

“This is an attempt to increase tourist arrivals to the Maldives,” Zameer said, during the two-day conference at Hotel Jen.

He, however, did not give details.

Maldives, the most dispersed country on the planet with 1,192 islands spread over roughly 90,000 square kilometres, already has 11 airports, including three international airports. The country’s flagship carrier Maldivian operates flights to all the airports in the country while a private airline flies to a few select airports.

Government has contracted developers to build several new domestic airports across the country, with the latest being a USD57.7 million contract with Malaysia’s Gryphon Energy Corporation to develop airports in five islands; Kulhudhuffushi in northern Haa Dhaal atoll, Funadhoo in northern Shaviyani atoll, Nilandhoo in southern Faafu atoll, and Maavarulu and Fares-Maathoda in southern Gaafu Dhaal atoll.

As the government gears up to launch new airport development projects across the archipelago, a domestic airport being developed on the island of Kudahuvadhoo in Dhaalu Atoll is set to begin test flights towards the end of this month.

The USD20 million airport, which has been built on 64 hectares of land reclaimed from the lagoon of Kudahuvadhoo, is part of the development of the newly opened Kandima Maldives resort. The resort, which opened last month, is located a 20-minute boat ride away from the airport.

Domestic airport in the atolls will benefit locals who often travel to capital Male as well as boost tourism by reducing the price of domestic travel to resorts in the atolls from the main Velana International Airport. Several resorts, especially those in outer atolls now depend on more expensive seaplane transfers.

Over a million tourists from across the globe visit the Indian Ocean island nation every year to holiday in one of the 120 resorts and 300 plus guesthouses located in all corners of the country. The multi-billion dollar tourism industry, which is the country’s main economic activity, relies heavily on the domestic transport infrastructure, especially air travel.

 

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