Maldives’ new government has plans to boost tourism investment while also ensuring this main wealth-providing sector is run sustainably
Improvements to transport infrastructure and plans to diversify Maldives’ tourism offering mean the number of visitors is set to grow in the archipelago. But the nation’s new government is adamant that this will not have a negative impact on the delicate marine environment or tarnish the islands’ distinct charm.
“Sustainability is key to our success, and we are going to start working on our next sustainable tourism master plan, in which the main two wings will be protecting our environment and cherishing our culture and heritage,” explains Tourism Minister Ali Waheed.
Over the next five years the tourism sector, which provides 70 percent of Maldives’ wealth, will boost its intake to 2.5 million visitors a year from the 1.5 million expected in 2019 as 20 new resorts enter service. Minister Waheed says 100 islands are still available for development, adding that the government’s new system of incentives and improved investment culture will make doing business in paradise as transparent as its crystalline waters.
One of the things Maldives’ new authorities want the world to know is that the islands offer richly diverse potential beyond the exclusive ultra-relaxation trips for which they are rightly famous. Just four hours from the Gulf, visitors can enjoy halal hospitality, explore the Maldives’ fascinating history and culture, influenced by ocean exploration across the centuries, and even sports and medical tourism.
Despite the islands’ well-earned reputation as an oasis of tranquillity, Waheed is also eyeing the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) sector. “Companies need to know that they can host their events here while also taking a cool, tropical break on the islands.”
Villa Group has been a key player in the development of Maldives’ tourism sector. The results are plain to see at these three of its five award-winning Villa Hotels & Resorts, which all offer that magical Maldivian mixture of luxury, seclusion and simplicity
Opened in 1998, Sun Island is the Maldives’ biggest resort, a mile long and more than 400 metres wide at the southern tip of South Ari Atoll. This family destination has an ample array of water-sports activities based around its lagoons, but so much space and alluring scenery will inevitably lull most visitors into a state of deep relaxation.
With its luxury spa, spectacular over-the-water villas and lush seclusion encompassing the entirety of Lankanfinolhu island, Paradise is barely an exaggeration. Just a 20-minute speedboat ride from Velana International Airport, Paradise Island offers every imaginable water-sport option, including a PADI-accredited diving centre, and a broad range of gourmet dining options, including the elegant Lagoon restaurant.
Occupying a teardrop-shaped island in the Baa Atoll, Royal Island is billed by Villa Group as the Maldives that travellers have always dreamed of. From pampering in the Araamu Spa to a choice of not one, but two Presidential Suites, each with its own butler, Royal guarantees a luxury experience, as well as some of the best beaches in the islands.