An association named Equatorial Travel and Tourism Association (ETTA) has been formed with the purpose of promoting tourism in the islands of southern atolls including Addu.
The organization, that came in to existence last month, is an initiative of the Addu City Council and has its mayor Abdulla Sodiq as the advisor.
The association with seven board members would act independently despite its close affiliations with the council. The president of the association is Mohamed Waheed, the manager of Equator Village, a resort that is in operation in Gan. The deputy president Abdulla Thoyib operates “Aquaventure” dive center in Addu. The secretary general, Misbaah Nazeerm is the creator of “Discover Addu”, a private initiative that promotes and markets Addu atoll.
Speaking to “Mihaaru”, Sodiq explained that the main aim of the association would be to develop and promote mid market tourism in the southern atolls, which include Addu, Fuvahmulah, Huvadhu and Laamu.
He expressed that with the expansion of guesthouse tourism in the region, it was vital to have a body that would help in the development of this sector. Mayor Sodiq added that with the development of Gan International Airport, it was very important to increase the bed capacity in the southern region so that airlines could stay operational.
“One of the main concerns now is to sustain the operations of airlines that fly into the region. The bed capacity in the area is still not adequate and even now Sri Lankan Airlines is having difficulties in maintaining the scheduled flights.”
Addu City Council had previously announced a project named “Guesthouse Venture” to promote tourism in the region, but it was vexed when the government curtailed the powers of the city councils.
According to the council, the newly formed association will closely collaborate and function with the Ministry of Tourism, the Maldives Integrated Tourism Development Cooperation (MITDC), Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) and other tourism related bodies in the country.
Addu City Council has also made plans to use resources from the Addu Citizens Trust Fund to promote tourism in the atoll; it plans to spend MVR 3.5 million for promotional ventures.