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Attorney General Dr. Hassan Saeed has said that a draft law regulating wedding procedures for tourists in Maldives is expected to come into force before the end of this year.

“We are working to have the draft law passed and implemented within the course of this year,” Dr. Saeed said.

 

Tourism Minister Hassan Sobir said that the law is being drafted by the Tourism Ministry under the advise of the Attorney General’s Office.

 

Once the law comes into force, it is expected that more couples will visit Maldives to host memorable weddings. Presently, Maldives is very popular among European and Asian honeymooning couples.

The Tourism Ministry has awarded three islands to be developed as excursion islands to successful bidders.

Male’ resident Hussain Ibrahim’s individual bid won Faafu atoll Anbara island for a US$170,000 lease over a five-year period.

 

Kunaavashi island in the same atoll was awarded to Far Horizon Private Limited for a lease of US$20,700 over a five-year period.

 

The third island, Faandhoo in Dhaalu atoll, was given to Sun Travel and Tours Private Limited for a lease of US$78,925 over five years.

 

A fourth island, Voavah in Baa atoll, was not awarded to any party because the two bidding documents submitted were not satisfactory to the Tourism Ministry.

 

Excursion islands are a popular hit with tourists who seek an isolated Robinson Crusoe experience on a non-spoilt virgin island.

Resort islands in Maldives are preparing for World Environment Day programs. The day will be marked nationwide on June 6.

Maldives Cabinet on Wednesday, May 26, met and discussed programs that will be held this year to mark the Environment Day. Among the programs is the presentation of the Green Leaf award presented by the President to parties which makes significant contributions to the protection of the Maldives environment.

 

Resort islands have been recipients of this prestigious award in the past, and it is likely that a resort island may become one of this year's recipients as well, officials predict. At Wednesday's meeting, Ministers recommended to President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom to send messages to world leaders and heads of international environmental organizations highlighting the fragility of the Maldivian environment and global environmental challenges that pose threats to Maldives.

 

Tourism, which forms the backbone of the Maldives economy contributing 32 percent to the country's GDP, is highly dependent on the preservation of Maldives delicate ecological systems which scientists say are threatened by global warming and sea level rise if worldwide efforts are not undertaken to combat the negative impacts of climate change.

The United States "Robb Report" has named Maldives' Coco Palm Resort & Spa as the best spa. Coco Palm Resort & Spa is a five-star resort island situated on the private island of Dunikolu in Baa Atoll. The resort is a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World since 1999. Coco Palm Resort & Spa is a client of Crown Tours.

Maldives biggest travel fair, the Maldives Hotel and Trade Exhibition (MHTE) will be held in the capital Male' from 5 to 7 July 2004, organisers announced.

An official launching ceremony was however held on May 19. The hotel fair, to be participated by 10 countries, is organised by Maldives Exhibition and Conference Service (MECS) in association with the Sri Lanka Exhibition and Conference Service.

 

The three-day fair will display a variety of products useful for the tourism industry. There will be 120 stalls at the fair, organisers said.

Maldives officials have called for extra efforts to increase Italian tourist arrivals to the country.

"Italy is an important tourist market to Maldives," a tourism official commented.

 

Recent statistics released by the Tourism Ministry showed that there was a 6.4 percent decrease in tourist arrivals from Italy during the first quarter of 2004 compared to the year-ago period.

 

From January to April 2003, there were 66,273 Italian tourist arrivals recorded.

 

However, during the same period this year, Italian arrivals were recorded at 62,042. Nevertheless, tourist arrivals from Italy still make up 25.8 percent or one-fourth of total tourist arrivals to Maldives.

Maldives has submitted a report outlining the success of the tourism industry to a meeting held by the World Bank in Brussels.

Tourism Minister Hassan Sobir presented the report outlining the importance of the tourism industry, which makes up 32 percent of Maldives' GDP.

 

The World Bank meeting, held from May 10-11 in association with the European Union, addressed issues facing the economies of developing countries.

Tourist occupancy in Maldives marked an increase of 8.9 percent in the first quarter of this year, the Tourism Ministry revealed.

Statistics recently released by the ministry show that the occupancy rate for January to April 2003 was 90.4 percent while for the same period this year, the occupancy rate had increased by 99.3 percent.

 

February 2004 recorded the highest occupancy rate at 102.5 percent.

 

The number of nights spent by tourists also increased by 10 percent during the first quarter of 2004.

The Transport Ministry hopes to employ high standard ferry boats operating between Male and Hulhule where Maldives’ international airport is located.

Proposals have been invited from parties interested in operating high quality ferries to ensure more safety and protection for passengers.

 

Presently, many foreign tourists arrive in Male’, the capital, and stay overnight in hotels before leaving to their respective resorts, or before departing to Hulhule to go back to their home countries.

 

The operating of safer ferries will ensure more protection for tourists and staff working at the airport during rough seas though it is a short 10-minute boat ride between Male’ and Hulhule, an official said.

 

The Transport Ministry said that high standard ferries will start operating to Hulhule from 1 December 2004.

 

The number of ferries operating between Male’ and Hulhule will be limited to 40.

The tourism ministry has postponed the pre-bid meeting for the new 11 islands to be developed for tourism which was earlier scheduled to be held on Monday, May 10.

The meeting is now scheduled for May 16, the ministry said in an announcement.

 

The meeting is to be held to give relevant information to interested parties and also answer queries presented by such parties.

 

Bid documents are available for purchase until June 24.

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