Maldives to incentivise guesthouses via new SME bank
A financing company will soon be established under the administration’s policy on promoting local tourism in the Maldives, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih announced Saturday.
Speaking at the closing ceremony of the Maldives Guesthouse Symposium 2018 held at the main convention centre of Dharubaaruge in capital Male, President Solih said the SME Financing and Development Corporation (SFDC) will be created with the shareholding of the government. It will be the first of its kind bank in the Maldives with the shareholding of city councils as well, he added.
The president stressed that SFDC would be first established as a financial institute which does not take deposits, but that it would be changed to a depository company later on. Financial and professional assistance would be provided to guesthouse businesses through this company, with loans to be issued from February 2019, he said.
“The bank will contribute in generating more wealth and ensuring economical sustainability of the Maldivian people,” the president said.
On a different note, President Solih shed light on the fact that tourism industry accounts for 70 per cent of the Maldivian economy and stated the importance of further developing the industry in order to achieve economic feasibility and individual growth.
The president underscored the high priority accorded to ensuring that all Maldivian citizens can enjoy the true benefits of tourism rather than a handful of business leaders. Tourism ministry was in the process of revising the necessary rules and regulations, he said.
President Solih highlighted that broadening tourism promotion to encompass guesthouse businesses is part of the first 100-days goals of his administration. He noted that the Maldives should not only be promoted as a luxury destination, and said that the middle-class market must be advertised as well.
“Guesthouse businesses are not currently being regulated properly, despite the rapid rate at which the business has expanded to all parts of the country. This could only be achieved by decentralising tourism management and making local councils the main powerhouse of guesthouse businesses,” the president said.
Held as part of the new government’s first 100-day pledges, the Maldives Guesthouse Symposium 2018 took place at the main convention centre of Dharubaaruge in capital Male. The one-day forum was attended by tourism minister Ali Waheed and top officials of relevant authorities along with representatives from 340 guesthouses located across the Maldives.
The main objective of the symposium is to create a platform for guesthouse operators and relevant government authorities to come together and discuss issues and constraints, providing strategic directions for sustainable development of guesthouse sector, which support environmentally sensitive business operations, whilst protecting the cultural and natural heritage of the island in providing maximum economic and social benefits to the local people.
The symposium recognises the need for sustainable development of the rapidly growing guesthouse sector of the Maldives, as well as the government’s commitment to identify and address issues and challenges faced by guesthouse operators and island communities.
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. Some 500 guesthouses have started operations over the past five years as the number of travellers that choose to stay in guesthouses rise.