Fourteen new resorts will be opened this year, Tourism Minister Dr. Abdulla Mausoom has said.
The minister was summoned to the Parliament on Monday, and Thimarafushi MP Abdulla Riyaz inquired from the minister regarding the islands leased for resort development from Th. atoll.
In his response, the minister said the government aimed to expand tourism in the atoll and across the Maldives. From among the islands announced for tourism development from Thaa atoll, one island, Olhufushi, has received a bid, and the government is therefore confident of opening the resort, he said. The bids for other islands opened for resort development along with Olhufushi will be evaluated, and the islands are expected to be handed over next month, he said.
The minister further said Th. Kanimeedhoo will be developed under a cross-subsidy model. He said he believes additional islands must be developed from Thaa atoll as the atoll has an airport.
The minister said 14 new resorts would be opened this year, adding 3,742 tourist beds to the market. If the beds are counted as 'triple beds,' the number would increase to 5,600, he said. However, the resorts that opened last year and those expected to open this year do not include any resorts from Thaa atoll, he added.
'We are working on expanding tourism in Thaa atoll to include tourism facilities under homestay model and guesthouse model,' the minister said.
Sharing information on islands leased for tourism development from Thaa atoll, Minister Mausoom said five islands had been handed over to developers. They are Ruhthibirah, Kalhudhiyafushi, Ekurufushi Finolhu, Olhugiri, and Elaa island. Kalhudhiyafushi, Ekurufushi Finolhu, and Olhugiri were leased through Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPC) by the former government and have met with some issues, he said.
Detailing further, the minister said the resort being developed in Kalhudhiyafushi had reached 80 percent completion. However, the work has stopped, and the government has granted three years to finish the island along with Ruhthibirah and Ekurufushi Finolhu, he disclosed.
While plans are in place to link Th. Veymandhoo and Th. Kinbidhoo via a causeway, Th. Elaa has now been taken by the government, the minister said.
The only resort in Th. atoll is currently COMO Maalifushi.