Maldives to lease three more islands for resort development
Maldives has opened closed bidding for another three uninhabited islands for resort development.
An announcement by the tourism ministry on Wednesday listed these islands:
- Kagi: 2.5 hectare island in Kaafu atoll for USD 2.1 million
- Bodukaashihura: 2.4 hectare island in Alif Dhaal atoll for USD 1.7 million
- Lonubui: 2.1 hectare island in Alif Dhaal atoll for USD 1.5 million
The Tourism Act was amended last year to allow closed bidding for islands for resort development.
After the amendment came into effect, the ministry put up for lease 14 uninhabited islands and two lagoons for tourism development. Details on the progress of the sale are yet unclear, except the leasing of Feydhoofinolhu in Kaafu atoll to a Chinese company for USD 4 million.
Local laws allow tourism leases of up to 100 years.
Over the past three years, dozens of uninhabited islands have been leased to local and foreign resort developers. Several international brands have entered into the market, increasing the number of resorts to 120. That number is set to increase as the government has announced the opening of some 20 new resorts by the end of this year.
Along with the new resort openings come the challenge of increasing demand from budget travellers who choose guesthouses over luxury resorts that the Maldives is known for. The guesthouse sector has rapidly expanded with over 300 guesthouses in operation today.
Government has come under fire from private organisations representing industry stakeholders such as the Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO) over the lack of effort and budget to promote the Maldives as a destination.
The government has recently announced new steps to maintain a structured growth in tourism, including a slowdown in leasing islands for resort development and increased marketing efforts in key markets such as China and the Middle East in order to reach an ambitious target of a record 1.5 million tourist arrivals this year.