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The tourism industry has hailed the government's announcement of a four-year project to limit greenhouse gas emissions from Maldives.

"This is an important step in the right direction for the environmentally fragile Maldives whose tourism, the mainstay of the economy, is wholly dependent on the preservation of the country's delicate environment," a resort operator commented.

 

The Rf30.9 million (about US$2.4 million) project to be conducted under the Ministry of Science and Technology is assisted by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Global Environment Facility.

 

The Maldives government, the State Electric Company (STELCO), the Danish International Development Agency (DIDA), and the local private company Guarantee Fiberglass is also contributing to this nationwide project.

After an extensive meeting with the contracted builders at Huvafenfushi, unfortunately due to circumstances beyond our control they have advised us that a May 1 opening, meeting our standards with all guest rooms and facilities operational is not possible.

We are not willing to compromise our standards by opening a resort that is not going to give our guests a true 'Huvafen' experience and it is with bitter disappointment that we now have to announce a rescheduled opening for July 1, 2004.

 

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Shark watching is more beneficial to tourists and Maldives should make an effort to rehabilitate its shark population, environmentalists recently said.

"More revenue is generated from shark-watching," an official from a local environmental NGO said.

 

The recent interest in shark conservation comes in the wake of research efforts launched by Banyan Tree Maldives resort into the black-tipped shark.

 

The resort has launched a project to determine the breeding, growth and movements of the black-tipped shark in Maldives waters.

 

The research is carried out by Banyan Tree Maldives in association with a foreign university.

Special attention is being given to advertise Maldives tourism in Germany, according to officials.

The focus on the German market became wide after it was found that nearly 800,000 tourist arrivals to Maldives over the past decade were recorded from Germany.

 

"Germany has always been a special market for Maldives. Our promotional efforts thus also give special attention to the German market," an official said.

 

Germany is presently Maldives' third largest tourism market.

The Tourism Ministry last week announced that 11 new islands have been set aside by the government to be developed as resorts.

They are Alidhoo island in Haa Alifu atoll, Hondafushi in Haa Dhaalu, Dholhiyadhoo in Shaviyani, Randheli in Noonu, Mavelavaru in Noonu, Kalhufahalafushi in Thaa, Olhuveli in Laamu, Funamauddoo and Hadahaa in Gaafu Alifu, and Conotta and Lonudhuvahutta in Gaafu Dhaalu.

 

These islands are to be allocated for resort development under the government’s plan to introduce tourism to all regions of Maldives, officials said. The 11 islands come from atolls where presently there are no resorts, and these islands were chosen because of their proximity to airports.

 

The Tourism Ministry said that it will put up these projects for tender before the end of the month. In the case of Fuvahmulah, an island which is geographically a single atoll entity by itself, the Tourism Ministry will allow the successful bidder to develop a hotel there.

 

The development of these new resorts will help to distribute income generated from tourism to all island communities of Maldives, officials said.

Surveys on islands in atolls where tourism has not been introduced will be completed this week.

These include Haa Alifu, Haa Dhaalu, Shaviyani and Noonu atolls in the north, according to the Tourism Ministry.

 

President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, in his Presidential Address in late February while declaring open the People's Majlis (parliament) for this year, promised to develop resort islands in all atolls of Maldives soon.

 

The introduction of tourism to all regions of the Maldives archipelago is expected to raise the living standards of island communities. Maldives has 200 inhabited islands and over 90 resort islands.

Two southern atolls of Maldives, Gaafu Alifu and Gaafu Dhaalu atolls, are being studied to develop resort islands. Tourism Minister Hassan Sobir on Tuesday led a delegation to the two atolls to assess the islands that can be developed as resorts. The minister is accompanied by Tourism Ministry officials and experts from the Maldives tourism industry.

A new law recently implemented allows for the traveling of tourists to all atolls of Maldives on safari tours.

The Tourism Ministry said that the amended law paved way for any party to conduct safari tours to any part of the Maldives archipelago.

 

Safari operators said that the new law would allow for the expansion of their services to tourists in arranging excursions to distant corners of the Maldives.

 

Interested parties can obtain a copy of the law from the Tourism Ministry.

 

“The text of the law will shortly be posted on our (Tourism Ministry’s) website,” an official said.

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