Tourism Minister Dr. Mausoom Abdulla said the ministry has decided to sign an addition contract with resort developers that will return the islands leased back to the state if they remain unopened within three years after the new contract is signed.
Under the Decentralisation Act, the biggest complaint is that the islands have been held for many years without developing resorts.
These complaints have increased as the Decentralisation Act states a certain amount of the profits generated by resorts would be given to the islands of the atoll the resort is based.
According to the statistics released by the ministry last year, approximately 50 islands remain undeveloped even though they were leased to be operated as resorts. The ministry have received requests to extend the development period for 21 resorts. Some islands have remained untouched for roughly 10-15 years.
Dr. Mausoom has been travelling to the islands over the weekends to inform the residents about homestay, which they soon plan to introduce to Maldives. He has been increasing awareness on how they will benefit the communities on these trips. In his visit to Lhaviyani Atoll this past weekend, several island councils complained to the minister what that they do not see any benefit to islands being leased for resorts.
Speaking to Mihaaru News, Minister said they too are concerned about undeveloped resorts. The islands are leased under specific plans and unachieved goals are a matter of concern.
"When an island [resort] remains unopened the atoll loses on employment opportunities. The state doesn't get tax revenue that they would otherwise. It is just left alone," he said.
Dr. Mausoom said the ministry plans to leave the contracts they easily can. However, if the companies decide to appeal these cases in court, the ministry would not be able to break the contracts as easily.
"Any agreements we can null, we are trying to sign additional contracts. These will state if the resorts are not opened within three years, the contract will come to an end automatically."
The ministry will not wait three years to null a contract either. He said a resort can be fully developed within a period or 18 months.
"If construction has not started within 1.5 years, it cannot be completed within the remaining 1.5 years. God be willing the citizens will see these changes reflect in resorts being developed. Or [the contractors will] leave."