Airports in atolls must be better utilised to expand tourism across Maldives, declared former President Mohamed Nasheed late Friday.
Speaking at the campaign launching of Dhiyana Saeed, who is to contest in Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)'s primary for the constituency of Villingili in Gaafu Alif Atoll, Nasheed stressed that Maldives could no longer depend solely on its main gateway as Velana International Airport (VIA) could not cater to the country's maximum potential for visitors.
He urged to establish and make full use of airports in other atolls to complement the rise of local tourism.
Nasheed highlighted that the desired changes could commence with the international airport in Gan, Addu Atoll, from which tourists could enjoy economical transits to resorts and islands in Addu City and nearby atolls of Fuvahmulah, Gaafu Alif and Gaafu Dhaalu.
In his speech, Nasheed noted that the nation's GDP of USD 12,000 per capita was not reflected in the everyday lives of citizens, resulting in issues such as lack of housing, challenges in attaining higher education and employment, and thus having to find work far from one's home island and family.
He vowed that the government would bring about solutions for these issues through the upcoming parliamentary elections, slated for April 6.
While Nasheed expressed confidence that the current administration of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih would fulfill its electoral pledges, he emphasised that MDP required the majority of the parliament in order for the government to do so. He called on the people to vote for MDP's candidates in the parliamentary elections, in order for the government to attain the full legal power needed to reform the Maldives' judicial system, hold independent institutions accountable, and fulfill all its vows.
Nasheed further stated that with the parliament's power, the government would increase fishermen's wages, lower the tariffs of electricity and water supply, and continue development projects.