The Maldives has invited bids to operate tourist resorts in 16 uninhabited islands, with the offer closing on June 24.
Tourism deputy minister Assad Riza said that local authorities are confident of garnering some positive response for the 16 islands which allows for the construction of resorts with a minimum total of 3,120 beds. Currently, the Maldives has over 50,000 beds in operation at 152 resorts, 12 hotels and 618 guest houses across more than 150 resort islands.
According to the bid document, the government is hoping to raise a total of US$15.4 million from the leasehold rental of the 16 islands, with the lease period being 50 years and construction to be completed within 36 months after the signing of the leasehold agreement.
Among the stipulated conditions in the bid offer is that 70 per cent of the resort staff must be local Maldivians with a minimum of 5 per cent being local females, and that up to 70 per cent of power generation should come from renewable energy. It also entails the discouragement of unsustainable practices including the removal of natural vegetation on the islands.
The Maldives is home to more than 1,100 islands, many of which remain uninhabited.
Tourism in the country has been on the mend, after the pandemic forced a brief closure of its borders last year. According to officials, arrivals have slowed down due to various outbound restrictions placed in key source markets in the west.
“This is not a problem as this is the traditional off-season,” said Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation managing director Thoyyib Mohamed. “The main thing is that we are open for tourism.”
Arrivals up to May this year were 454,383, an increase from the 382,816 arrivals in the year-ago period, but a significant drop from the 749,114 arrivals in January-May 2019. Arrivals dropped to 64,613 in May 2021, from 91,200 in April. Russia, India, Germany and Ukraine were the top source markets.
As of June 5, the Maldives has reported 64,396 Covid-19 infections, with 161 deaths.