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The Six Senses and Spa Resort at Soneva Gili island officially reopened on Sunday after it was closed for reconstruction following the tsunami in December.

Tourism Minister Dr. Mustafa Lutfi officially reopened the resort at a small ceremony on the island which is located in North Male atoll, one of the major tourism zones of Maldives.

 

The resort reopened with 44 fully functioning water bungalows. Another 10 rooms are still under renovation.

 

An official from the resort said that many tour operators have been waiting for the resort to reopen and that the occupancy rate will return to pre-tsunami levels in September 2005. At the moment the resort's occupancy rate is 35 percent.

LOHIFUSHI, Maldives -- The fifth edition of the O’Neill Deep Blue Open concluded at this resort on Sunday.

South Africa’s 21-year old Daniel Redman, surfing in his first ever WQS final, won the event, earning 2750 WQS tour points, and a $US15,000 prize cheque. The surfer from Durban now moves on to 4th position on the WQS tour ratings.

 

He fought his way up from the very first round of the competition, brushing the likes of Timmy Reyes (USA) and Greg Emslie (ZAF) aside, before finally defeating Australia's Luke Hitchings in the final.

 

Hitchings had to settle for 2nd place with Brazil’s Adriano de Souza and South African Greg Emslie taking joint 3rd.

 

The O’Neill Deep Blue Open this time is believed to have created confidence in tourists that Maldives tourism is fully operational after the tsunami in December.

 

“To see people braving the waves after the Big Wave is quite heartening,” said an official from World Tourism Organisation.

 

The 5th edition of the O’Neill Deep Blue Open was hosted in Maldives by O’Neill Europe, the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) of Australia, Maldives Surfing Association (MSA) and Maldives Tourism Promotion Board.

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