What is News - Maldives Travel Industry!

Development Down South

Plans to develop the most remote part of the Maldives into a new tourist zone were unveiled to the tourism industry in London last week.

The project will bring prosperity and new jobs to Addu Atoll, and particularly the island of Gan, in the southern-most part of the Maldives.

New career opportunities in the hotel and catering sector and demand for local expertise and opportunities to sample Maldivian culture will boost employment for the islanders and will contribute to the overall growth of the economy of the region.

In a presentation given at the 2006 World Travel Market, which took place November 12-15 in London, the director-general of the Maldives tourism Promotion Board (MTPB), Dr Abdulla Mausoom, said that new hotels are to be built on four islands in the south of Maldives, providing 300 extra beds. “We need the additional capacity because we always have a shortage of beds in peak season,” he said. “Visitor numbers are down from two years ago but we are running at an average of 82 per cent occupancy all year round.”

The population of Addu has risen rapidly in recent years to about 28,000, living on six of the islands that comprise the atoll. The population is projected to rise to 50,000 by 2025. It is the second most densely populated atoll in the Maldives after Malé. Tourism development is vital to ensure future prosperity of the region and to provide sustainable incomes for local people.

The development plan includes the concept of community island hotels on large inhabited islands, which will be a first for the Maldives. Up to now, hotel complexes have been confined to previously uninhabited islands on the principle of “one island one resort”, and contact with local people and culture is limited to day excursions to nearby local islands.

“The Maldives is seeing record numbers of visitors arriving each day, winter and summer, peaking at around 600,00 annually,” said Dr Mausoom. “We know the ‘one island one resort’ concept in the Maldives is entirely successful and in time we are very likely to welcome one million visitors a year at some 139 resorts.”

The tourism development plan includes another first for the Maldives- the creation of a new public company in which Maldivian citizens will be able to invest in a 55 per cent majority of shares. The government will hold the remaining 45 per cent of stock.

The creation of a new southern tourist zone is part of a tourism master plan that includes the development of 35 new resorts on previously uninhabited islands. It’s understood that 20 of the new island leases have been allocated and are to be developed into ten luxury resorts and also ten medium-range hotels to address the demand for more affordable accommodation in the Maldives. The destination is increasingly popular with holiday-makers seeking a bargain stay in an exotic resort, who travel on cheap charter flights promoted by tour operators in Europe, in addition to the up-market visitors who revel in the five-star luxury of Maldives hotels and exclusive private islands.

Gan Island in the Addu Atoll has great potential for tourism development. It has sumptuous vegetation, palm trees and green fields and most islanders speak English. There are good roads and numerous nature hiking paths and pristine beaches with clear water. A network of causeways links Gan to four neighbouring islands and dive sites.

By David Browne
November 25, 2006 (Minivan News)


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