Maldives Wants New Airports for Resort Islands

COLOMBO ~ The Maldives is seeking international investors to help build 10 regional airports as part of a plan to develop nearly three dozen resort islands, a minister said this week.

“We plan to build 10 domestic airports packaged with tourist resorts, to make it economically feasible to investors. The tenders will go out later this year,” Maldivian Tourism Minister Mahmood Shaugee said.

The government plans to develop the 35 resort islands over the next two years. The exotic South Asian holiday location attracts over 600,000 visitors each year, mostly Europeans.

About 700 kilometers southwest of Sri Lanka, Maldives is a string of 1,192 coral islands scattered across the equator.

Some 199 are inhabited with 87 islands developed as tourist resorts, according to a recent World Bank study.

Last year the government signed up investors to develop the 35 resort islands, which will help raise the local hotel industry’s bed capacity to 23,000 within the next three years from 20,000 currently.

Maldivian resorts, favored by celebrities, report over 90 percent occupancy.

“We’re confident we can easily fill the new resorts,” Shaugee said.

The low-lying atoll nation has a population of 369,000 and the region’s highest per capita income of over US$2,300.

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