Maldives launches 3,000 bed guesthouse project to develop tourism in south

Maldives has launched an ambitious project to develop tourism in the southernmost Addu with construction set to begin in some two months and first phase to open by the end of this year.

The project was launched at a day-long investment forum held at the Equator Village city hotel in Addu on Saturday. The forum was attended by over 150 potential investors.

Tourism minister Moosa Zameer told the attendees that 97 properties would be developed across the artificially connected islands — Meedhoo, Hulhudhoo, Feydhoo, Mradhoo-Feydhoo and Hithadhoo — in Addu, and put up for sale for private businesses for a period of 50 years. Support facilities, including restaurants, spas, wellness centres and recreation areas would also be developed, he added.

“International airlines will have an added advantage to operate scheduled flights to Gan International Airport in Addu. This in turn will lead to sustainable growth,” Zameer said.

According to the newly created Maldives Integrated Tourism Development Corporation (MITDC), which has been tasked to develop and market the project, 67 out of the 97 properties will be 25-room guesthouses, and the rest a combination of beach and water villas. A single property will be priced at around USD250,000 and will be jointly marketed by MITDC and state tourism promotion company Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC).

MITDC said construction would begin in about two months and would be fully operational in 18 months.

“But we will open the properties that have been completed by the end of this year,” MITDC’s Managing Director Mohamed Shahid told journalists during the forum.

Minister Zameer assured investors that a joint financing model was being devised where MITDC would secure 70 percent of the funds. The company is preparing the necessary feasibility studies in order to submit them to banks and financial institutions, he added.

The ambitious project, which is expected to cost USD20-25 million, will add 3,000 tourist beds.

Maldives, known world over for its upmarket tourism industry, has resorts in the hundreds spread across the archipelago. The industry has in recent years expanded to introduce more affordable segments, including guesthouses and liveaboards.

Despite several new resort developments and a boom in guesthouse tourism in the Maldives, Addu as a whole has lagged behind for years in attracting tourism-related investments. The relatively large atoll, which has unique geographical features compared to other parts of the island nation, is home to only two of the some 120 tourist resorts in the Maldives; Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort & Spa and Canareef Resort Maldives.

However, tourism in the south has recently received a much needed boost from the launch of direct flights to Gan International Airport by SriLankan Airlines. Neighbouring Sri Lanka’s flagship carrier, which is particularly popular amongst tourists who travel to the Maldives from Europe, currently operates four weekly flights to Gan from Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo and is expected to increase frequency on the route to six flights per week from September.

 

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