Maldives to develop airport in Lhaviyani tourist hotspot

Government on Tuesday awarded a contract to leading resort operator Kuredu Holdings to develop a domestic airport in the tourist hotspot of Lhaviyani atoll.

At a ceremony held at Hurawalhi Maldives resort’s 5.8 Undersea restaurant Tuesday evening, tourism minister Moosa Zameer and Kuredu Holdings director Mohamed Moosa signed the agreement to develop the airport on the island of Madivaru, which had previously been used for military training.

Minister Zameer told reporters that Kuredu Holdings will invest USD 13 million to develop and bring the airport to operation in a year. The project involves reclaiming some three hectares of land from the lagoon of Madivaru, building a 1.2-kilometre runway, and a training academy for aviation officials from flagship carrier Maldivian and seaplane operator Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA), he said.

“The company can also develop a city hotel to incentivise the airport operation. I’m told they will utilise that option,” the minister said.

Tourism minister Moosa Zameer speaks to reporters at the ceremony. PHOTO/ HURAWALHI

The minister stressed the need to develop an airport in the atoll to boost tourism.

Lhaviyani atoll has one of the highest concentrations of tourism activity in the Maldives, with eight resorts including Kuredu Resort Maldives, Komandoo Island Resort and Spa, Hurawalhi Maldives, Palm Beach Island Maldives Resort and Spa, Atmosphere Kanifushi, Kanuhura Maldives, Fushifaru Maldives and Cocoon Maldives already in operation. Several new islands in the atoll are being developed as resorts, including the soon to be launched Kudadoo Maldives Private Island by Hurawalhi.

Speaking to reporters after the ceremony, Moosa, who is amongst the leading businessmen in the country, hailed the government’s ‘Nation First’ policy and said the airport project aligns perfectly with his goal of improving the socio-economic conditions of the country. Once completed, the airport will open dozens of new job opportunities for the atoll’s youth, he added.

Kuredu Holdings developed Kuredu island as a tourist resort in 1995-1996, and assisted sister company Komandoo Holdings Pvt Ltd to develop Komandoo island as a resort in 1997-1998. Kuredu Holdings owns and operate hotel resorts in the Maldives, and is currently developing several new resorts.

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 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.

Main photo: Avas Online

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