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The airport to be built in Maamigili island in the midst of Maldives' main tourism zone, Ari atoll, will be completed by Nov 2004, according to Villa Travels.

"We are trying to open it for 11 November 2004", Maldives' Republic Day, Villa Group Chairman Qasim Ibrahim said. Once the airport is set up, there will be a helicopter pad and a harbour, Qasim told local newspapers.


Most resort islands of Maldives are in North Ari atoll and South Ari atoll where Maamigili island is situated.

Germany is still Maldives' most important tourist market, the Maldives' Tourism Ministry said. A major effort and budget is allocated to promote Maldives in Germany, Tourism Minister Hassan Sobir said. "Our highest amount of promotional spending is on attracting German tourists," Sobir was quoted as saying in the local media.

Tourism Minister Hassan Sobir last night (July 27) launched the annual flea market, the "Night Market", organised by Maldives National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MNCCI).

Sobir officially inaugurated the 10-day flea market at a ceremony held at Boduthakurufaanu Magu on Male's southern coast.


More than 300 stalls are selling various types of goods at extremely cheap prices, and the event is attracting many tourists and expatriates due to the attractive prices offered.


"I bought a T-shirt for just 5 Rufiya," said a visitor to the Night Market last night.


The Night Market is organised by MNCCI as part of events to celebrate Maldives' Independence Day. Maldives' Independence Day is marked on July 26.

The Maldives is presently involved in in-depth discussions with various countries to expand its tourist market, the Tourism Ministry revealed.

Among the countries Maldives is in talks with include Russia and Switzerland from Europe, and neighboring Sri Lanka from South Asia.


The Tourism Ministry said that the concerned authorities of Maldives is presently discussing with the concerned authorities of these countries on the establishing of flights from the said countries.

The arrival of the President and the First Lady at Dharubaaruge was followed by the playing of the National Anthem by the NSS Band. The President and Madam Nasreena exchanged Independence Day greetings with a large number of the invitees, during last night’s Reception.

A special Independence Day video song was also aired during the Reception. The lyrics of the song were compiled by the President.


The Special Advisor of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, the Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, the Speaker of the People’s Majlis, Ministers, State-Ministers, State Dignitaries, Foreign Diplomats, Atoll Chiefs, Members of the People’s Majlis, and Officers of the National Security Service, attended the Reception.


Among the invitees for last night’s Reception were also members of the business community, senior figures of the tourism industry, senior officials from the Islands, who were presently in Male’, senior officials of the Wards of Male’, Government officials and students of the schools of Male’.


Source: Official Website of the President's Office

Success of every individual Maldivian is progress gained for the whole nation, President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom said Saturday.

Like other countries, Maldives needs to develop creative thinking and develop individual initiative to create income-earning opportunities, Gayoom said while addressing the nation on the occasion of Maldives’ Independence Day.


He said that it is important to reap the maximum potential of available resources by the people in coming up with own solutions for implementation of innovative works. In his Independence Day message broadcast by Television Maldives and broadcast by Voice of Maldives, Gayoom pledged co-operation and assistance of his administration for every Maldivian individual who is committed to national development. “The individual is the most important essence of nation development,” the President said. Gayoom said that the government will speed up the projects that aim to increase national income and raise the standards of living.


He said that every Maldivian contributes to the wealth of the nation, and that presently, one of the most urgent priorities is creating employment opportunities for the people. Within this sphere of social and economic development, there is a social responsibility to commit oneself to continue on with this process of nation development and prevent any hindrances which might lead to Maldives taking a step back in progress, Gayoom said. He said that Maldives’ independence and sovereignty are very much tied to the Islamic faith of the people, and that the secret behind Maldives’ rapid progress is the peace and harmony existing in the society.


The President said that everywhere in Maldives we can see the seeds of progress and the spirit of the people towards development. He said that over the past years, the foundations for the progress of the nation had already been laid by the government and the people. Gayoom said that with Allah’s good grace, the progress Maldives sees today is due to the combined efforts of the government, the private sector, and the people in general. President Gayoom and First Lady Nasreena Ibrahim hosted Friday evening’s official reception to mark Maldives’ Independence Day.


The First Couple met and greeted many people from the public at the ceremony held at Dharubaaruge in Male. A video song, titled “Nation’s Call” and of which lyrics were composed by the President, was played at the ceremony.


Maldives’ Independence Day is marked on July 26. Maldives ceased to be a British protectorate on 26 July 1965.

Tourism Minister Hassan Sobir has said that in the near future France may become an important tourist market for the Maldives.

"France will be a better market than even Germany," Sobir was quoted as saying in the local media.


"It will become a very important tourist market for Maldives," he said.


Presently, the bulk of tourist arrivals to the Maldives are from Italy and Germany.

Three new flights per week will start into the Maldives from France during the upcoming European winter season, the Tourism Ministry said.

During the season, 17 flights per week will arrive from Italy, Maldives' single largest tourist market.


Each flight, from France and Italy, has a 570-passenger capacity.

Tourism Minister Hassan Sobir has predicted more tourist arrivals to Maldives during the upcoming European winter season.

“If there is no turbulence in the international arena, we can expect more tourist arrivals,” the minister said.


The Iraq war and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) had an indirect effect on the Maldives' economy, but the Tourism Ministry said that its negative effects were minimal as the Iraq war was over soon and because no suspected SARS cases were recorded in Maldives.


"If there is no global negative effects on the world economy, we can expect tourist arrivals into the Maldives to surge soon," Sobir said.

Maldives has started allowing tourist arrivals from countries formerly affected by the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or the atypical pneumonia.

A senior official from the Tourism Ministry said that there are now no travel restrictions whatsoever into the Maldives, and that it is safe for travelers from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore to travel to the Maldives.


The Department of Public Health had earlier classified Southeast Asian countries as having the worst effects of SARS, and subsequently restricted tourists arriving into Maldives from Southeast Asian nations.


Maldives weathered the SARS epidemic, and so far there have never been any reported SARS cases in the Maldives.


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