One of the main objectives of opening more islands for resort development, following the state’s recently proposed amendment to the Tourism Act, is the increased capacity for more tourist influx to the Maldives which will result with the ongoing expansion of its main airport, tourism minister Moosa Zameer said on Thursday.
Speaking at the parliament’s Economic Affairs Committee regarding the amendment, which authorises bypassing the bidding process to lease islands for tourism development, Minister Zameer stated that the government wants to bring in an additional five million tourists at the end of Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA)’s development.
“We’re opening the islands [for resort development] taking the capacity of the airport into account. It’s not worth bringing 2 million passengers after developing an airport that caters for 7 million,” he said.
The minister elaborated on another areas for tourism development, noting that expansion of tourism in Haa Dhaal atoll has been the biggest challenge faced yet.
“We want to expand into areas that lack the tourism industry. Hence, we need to cut down acquisition costs for those areas,” said Zameer.
He also noted that tourism expansion calls for more regional airports, highlighting the recent announcement of projects to develop airports in a number of northern islands. He added that airports must also be developed in the atolls of Gaafu Dhaal, Raa and Meemu.
According to the state’s proposed amendment to the Tourism Act, the President’s Office determines the islands to be announced for resort development each year bypassing the bidding process. The islands will be leased upon payment of the acquisition fees determined by the government.