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Tourism Minister Hassan Sobir this week revealed that more new islands are to be set aside for resort development.

These islands are to be allocated for tourism development in addition to the 11 new islands which already have been put up for tender recently under the second tourism master plan.

 

The minister did not reveal the number of islands which will be put up for tender after the 11 islands are handed over to successful bidders in July 2004, but said that the case of the new islands will be tended to as soon as possible.

 

Sobir, however, revealed that some 300 islands have been surveyed for prospects of resort development.

A new aircraft will be added to Island Aviation Services Limited’s fleet when the new 11 resorts open in one and a half years.

aTourism Minister Hassan Sobir, who is also a member of the Board of Directors of Island Aviation, said that when choosing the 11 islands for tourism development, proximity to regional airports were given due consideration.

 

The new resorts are being developed in nine atolls of Maldives which presently do not have any resort islands.

The winner of the Maldives Image Girl contest in Japan will shortly visit Maldives for a photo shoot, Maldives Tourism Promotion Board said.

The Image Girl was contested by 400 Japanese girls and the winner’s image will be used in all promotional material distributed in Japan, MTPB said.

 

The Image Girl contest was held at a fair held in Tokyo from 2 to 4 April.

The decision on Monday by the parliament to raise the daily tourist tax from US$6 to US$8 will result in an increase of the government’s annual revenue by Rf130 million (about US$10 million), local media reported Tuesday.

This amount is estimated to be generated in tax revenues to the government on condition that at least half a million tourist arrivals arrive annually to the Maldives.

 

Last year for the first time, Maldives recorded 500,000 tourist arrivals.

 

The law to raise tourist tax to US$8 will come into force beginning November 2004.

 

Tourism contributes 32 percent to Maldives Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Tourist arrivals to the Maldives in March 2004 increased by 13.1 percent compared to March 2003.

Recent statistics released by the Tourism Ministry state that 63,855 tourist arrivals were recorded in March 2004.

 

Most tourist arrivals last month were recorded from Italy which stands at 17,540.

Maldives won six awards in tourism at a fair held in Tokyo, Japan, from 2 to 4 April. Among the awards include best diving destination, dream islands, best scenic destination, and favorite resorts outside of Japan. The best resort island went to Coco Palm and Spa while the best water bungalow award went to Vaadhoo Diving Paradise.

The Maldives parliament, the People’s Majlis on Monday, April 12, passed an amendment to Clause 35 of the tourism law to raise the tourist tax from U$6 to US$8 per day.

The amended law will come into force beginning November 2004.

 

Resorts, hotels, guesthouses and safari cruises are required to pay the tax to the government in US dollars. However, the government will also accept an equivalent amount paid in any other currency accepted by the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) which is the country’s central bank.

 

MMA accepts all major foreign currencies. At Monday’s parliament session, the new law was passed with 42 votes in favor out of the total 44 members present.

 

The last time the tourist tax was changed was in 1988. Since then, over the past 15 years, many changes have occurred with regard to value of currency, commodities, and services in Maldives, the government said.

April 2, 2004 - The Maldives wins 1st place among reader’s choice in 4 main categories during the Dive and Travel Awards organised by the Marine Art Centre of Japan.

Maldives was awarded 1st places for Best diving area – Overseas, Best Dreaming Area, Best Place for photography, and Best resort area – overseas. In addition to these destination awards, individual resorts all received awards and recognitions, including Best resort hotel overseas for Coco Palm Resort & Spa and Best over-water bungalow for Vadoo Island Resort.

 

Popularity for the Maldives has been increasing in Japan during the past years, more specifically as a diving destination as well as a honeymoon and wellness holiday destination. The Maldives welcomed 42,081 Japanese tourists in the year 2003. These arrivals numbers are estimated to increase during this year due to more favourable trends in the Japanese outbound travel market, after the downturn of such trends experienced during mid 2003. The Maldives enjoyed a remarkable growth of 16 percent in tourist arrivals in 2003, with 563,593 tourists visiting the Maldives during the year.

 

END.

 

Source: Maldives Tourism Promotion Board (MTPB)

Maldives only tourist submarine, the Whale Submarine, will temporarily discontinue underwater excursions for maintenance work.

The maintenance work is carried out once every five years in according to the regulations regarding the operation of the submarine, Managing Director Umar Naseer was quoted as saying.

 

Underwater tourist excursions increased this month in comparison to last month, Naseer said.

 

The excursions will be continued after the submarine is reassembled, he said.

Sonevafushi Resort and Spa in Baa atoll has inaugurated an environment club aimed to conduct year-long conservation programs.

Soneva Ecology Equilibrium (SEE) club will also carry out awareness programs among students of primary schools, specially in Baa atoll where Sonevafushi is located.

 

Sonevafushi is among the resorts to have won the Green Leaf, an award given by the President in recognition of outstanding services to conserve and preserve the delicate environment on which Maldives tourism is heavily dependent on.

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