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Tourism Minister Hassan Sobir has said that banks in Maldives can contribute about US$100 million out of the estimated US$150 million which will be required for construction of the new 11 resort islands.

Maldives Monitory Authority (MMA), the Central Bank of Maldives, said that local commercial banks have the capacity to give this considerable funding for the tourism sector.

 

MMA is of the view that simultaneous construction of 11 resorts will not hinder the incoming of foreign currency into the Maldives provided that other economic sectors continue to perform well.

 

“Income from existing resorts will continue to be generated. Therefore it will not hinder the economic growth of the Maldives,” an MMA official told local media.

The evaluation of the bids submitted for the new 11 islands to be developed as tourist resorts will be carried out in the most transparent manner, President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom said on Monday.

“The evaluation of the bids submitted for the 11 new islands identified to be developed as tourist resorts will commence shortly. The government intends to carry out this process in a very open and transparent manner,” the President said in his address to the nation on the occasion of Maldives’ Independence Day.

 

President Gayoom said that efforts to introduce tourism in each and every atoll are underway in line with the government’s objective to provide further impetus to the country’s economy.

 

The development of these resorts will result in further progress to the economy and also provide a number of employment opportunities for the community, he said.

As part of the government’s tourism policy to introduce tourism to each and every atoll of Maldives, the Planning and National Development Ministry has identified two locations in Fuvahmulah island where a hotel can be built.

Fuvahmulah is a one-island atoll located just south of the Equator. The plan to build a hotel in Fuvahmulah was announced along with the 11 new islands set aside for tourism development. However, Tourism Minister Hassan Sobir said that the Fuvahmulah project was not put on tender earlier as plans on a location for the hotel were not finalized.

 

Though the Planning Ministry has now identified two possible locations in Fuvahmulah, the Tourism Ministry has not yet disclosed the information.

 

Sobir said that work on putting up the Fuvahmulah hotel project for tender will be tackled soon.

 

Many factors have to be taken into account before embarking on building a hotel in an inhabited island like Fuvahmulah, the minister said.

The President’s Office has instructed the Ministry of tourism to emphasize on greater transparency on the evaluation of the bids submitted on 4 July for the 11 new islands earmarked for development as tourist resorts.

The President’s Office also asked the Tourism Ministry to expedite the evaluation of these bids.

 

The President’s Office instructions went on to state that the Bid Evaluation Committees should, upon the conclusion of their work, meet with bidders, in the presence of the media, to share with them observations and findings on the bids and to explain why individual bids had succeeded or failed.

 

The Tourism Ministry said that it hoped to complete evaluation of bids as soon as possible and hand over the 11 islands to successful bidders.

 

Work on construction of the resort islands are expected to start before the end of the year. Work has to be completed in one and a half years.

The Tourism Ministry has announced that applications are now open for the Green Resort Award.

The award is given by President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom in recognition of outstanding services by a resort to the protection and preservation of Maldives’ fragile environment on which the travel industry, Maldives economic backbone, is based.

 

Resorts who would like to vie for the award this time have been given a deadline of 19 August to submit their applications for the Green Resort Award.

 

The winner or winners of the Green Resort Award for this year will be announced during the Tourism Week celebrations in September.

A song and a documentary are to be telecast Saturday on MTV as part of the efforts to promote Maldives, Maldives Tourism Promotion Board said.

The song “Visna Visna” performed by Mezzo band and directed by Mohamed Niyaz are to be telecast on the program World Chart.

 

MTPB said that various media throughout the world are targeted for Maldives promotional campaigns.

The tourism occupancy rate for the January-May 2004 period marked a 9.9 percent increase compared to the year-ago period, statistics revealed.

This year’s tourism occupancy figure for the first five months stands at 91.8 percent compared to the year ago period when it stood at 81.9 percent, the Tourism Ministry said.

 

Tourist arrivals for last month also marked an increase of 25.7 percent. Some 33,835 arrivals were recorded for June 2004 compared to the 26,915 arrivals recorded for June 2003.

Island Aviation Services will acquire more planes depending on the demand when the new 11 islands are developed as tourist resorts.

“We are also training personnel who will be required to meet the expansion in our domestic air transfer services,” the company’s managing director Ibrahim Saleem told local media.

 

A Dash-8 plane, with 50-passenger capacity, is to be brought to IAS in January 2005. However, depending on the demand, more planes will be acquired, IAS said.

Maldives is becoming a popular destination for Indian tourists, Maldives Tourism Promotion Board said.

MTPB said that from January to May, 4,757 Indian arrivals were recorded.

 

Earlier, Tourism Minister Hassan Sobir had said that India will in future become a valuable tourist-generating market to Maldives. MTPB is to carry out campaigns in India throughout this year to promote Maldives’ tourism.

 

The nature of the advertising campaigns are yet to be determined, an official said.

 

MTPB recently hosted an MTV crew to shoot video songs in Maldives in locales which will bring out all that is best about Maldives. MTV was scheduled to telecast the songs on July 10 and 17.

The Tourism Ministry on Sunday received 206 bids for the 11 new islands which are to be developed as tourist resorts.

The bids were received at Maldives’ international conference center in Male’, Dharubaaruge, by the 12:00pm deadline on Sunday.

 

The opening of the bids will be continued late into the day, Tourism Minister Hassan Sobir said.

 

The most number of bids were received for Mavelavaru island in Noonu atoll which received 33 bids.

 

Twenty-five bids were received for Hondafushi island in Haa Dhaalu atoll while 23 bids were received for Olhuveli island in Laamu atoll. Twenty-two bids were received for Dholhiyadhoo island in Shaviyani atoll, while 20 bids each were received for Randheli island in Noonu atoll and Kalhufahalafushi island in Thaa atoll. F

 

ifteen bids were received for Lonudhuahuttaa island in Gaafu Dhaalu atoll while 13 bids were received for Konotta island in the same atoll. Twelve bids each were received for Hadaha and Funamauddoo islands in Gaafu Alifu atoll while 13 parties bid for Alidhoo island in Haa Alifu atoll.

 

The bids were received each with a 100,000-dollar bid guarantee. When the new 11 islands are developed as resorts, it would ensure an additional 1,600 beds for the whole tourism industry. It will also ensure that each atoll, from which the island originates, will have 200 tourist beds.

 

Sobir said that the islands will be awarded to successful parties before the end of this year, and that each island is expected to become functional in one and a half years.

 

The islands are already being advertised in world tourism markets, Sobir said.

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