Pres reiterates plan to develop 50 new resorts in Maldives

President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom on Wednesday reiterated his goal to open 50 new resorts in the Maldives during his five-year term.

In his address issued on the occasion of World Tourism Day, the president stressed that the new resorts would help to cater for the increasing number of tourists visiting the Maldives.

After years of double-digit growth in tourism, the Maldives has over the recent years observed a slowdown in growth. Tourist arrivals have crossed the one million milestone and is on course to reach 1.5 million by the end of this year, but the country has been struggling to create demand amidst a significant increase in bed capacity.

Eleven new resorts came into operation last year alone, with a matching number of properties set to be opened by the end of this year. Over the past three years, dozens of uninhabited islands have also been leased to local and foreign resort developers.

In his message, president Yameen underlined the measures being taken by his administration to ensure the most beneficial approach for the people, through the tourism industry. He noted the government’s commitment to encourage small and medium enterprises in the industry.

The president described transportation from one island to another as the major barrier in the expansion of the tourism industry. In order to resolve the issue, the government has initiated foreign investment opportunities to establish and upgrade domestic airports, he added.

Over a million tourists from across the globe visit the Indian Ocean island nation every year to holiday in one of the 130 resorts and 400 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.

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 government has contracted both local and international companies to develop additional domestic airports across the archipelago in a bid to boost tourism.

In his message, the president commended the Maldives tourism sector for the numerous milestones attained in a short period, adding that every Maldivian should celebrate those achievements with pride. He also underscored the various work being carried out by the Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) and private organisations in promoting the country’s tourism sector, and expressed his gratitude to everyone contributing to the advancement of the industry.

“… all Maldivians must work together to maintain the good reputation achieved by Maldives in the tourism industry,” the president said.

Highlighting this year’s theme for World Tourism Day, ‘Sustainable Tourism – a Tool for Development’, president Yameen pointed out the significance of the message for the Maldives in promoting its tourism industry.

Meanwhile, tourism ministry has organised an exposure trip for students to mark the World Tourism Day.

World Tourism Day has been celebrated since 1980 on September 27, the day on which the statutes of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) entered into force. Peace and dialogue, energy, accessibility, and world heritage have been some of the topics tackled as part of the 37 previous editions of the day.

The theme of this year’s World Tourism Day is ‘Sustainable Tourism – a Tool for Development’. Celebrated in line with the 2017 International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, the day will be dedicated to exploring the contribution of tourism to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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