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The Maldives mull out 99-year lease concessions to foreign investors

Investors’ confidence would get a shot with 99-year lease of islands declared last week Maldives Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb. A good step for the Maldives as the country passed for the first time last year the million mark in foreign arrivals.

SINGAPORE/MALE – The only way to build up investor confidence is by leasing islands to investors for at least 99 years, declared Maldives tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb to Maldives online newspaper Haveeru following an investment forum in Singapore. 
The Minister talked to journalists indicating that Maldives Islands should be leased to foreign investors for 99 years as a sign of confidence for them. A law proposal will be made in that direction when the new Parliament gathered at the end of May. 
The 99-year lease for the development of resorts will prove to be beneficial to the country’s economy, he explained to the newspaper: “As an example, who would invest $200 million on a multi-specialist hospital for just 35 years?
“Singapore, Dubai and all the investor-friendly countries in the world lease their estates for 99 years. However, if the investors do not pay the agreed amount or fail to develop the area, we then have the right to terminate the agreement,” Adeeb said.
The tourism minister also said that resorts developed by foreigners could be listed and be offered to the public. “We have to compete with other countries – we have to be pro active in finding developers who would invest in Maldives. We will gain nothing if we let our uninhabited islands remaining empty,” he said to the online newspaper. The Maldives archipelago has some 1,190 coral islands grouped in a double chain of 26 atolls, which spread over 90,000 km2.

Accommodation total capacity at the end of 2013 included 109 Resorts with 23,469 beds, 20 hotels with 1,708 beds, 136 guesthouses with 1,918 beds and 163 safari vessels with 2,716 beds.

Tourist arrivals to the Maldives reached a million for the first time in 2013. With a total of 1,125,202 tourists by the end of the year 2013, the tourism industry recorded a growth of 17.4% compared with the same period of 2012. Europe remains the largest source market with 46.9% of all arrivals followed by Asia/Pacific with a share of 46.6%. China is the largest inbound market with a share of 32.6% followed by Germany with a 7.9% share, the UK with 7.3% and Russia with 6.2%. 
For the first quarter of 2014, tourist arrivals to the Maldives increased by 9.7% compared with the same period of 2013, reaching a total of 321,561. Europe was the leading market generator representing 51.3% of all arrivals to the Maldives. Asia/Pacific had a total market share of 42.2% with an impressive growth rate of 24.4% during the period January to March 2014.


(Sources: Haveeru and Maldives Tourism Ministry)
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Luc Citrinot a French national is a freelance journalist and consultant in tourism and air transport with over 20 years experience. Based in Paris and Bangkok, he works for various travel and air transport trade publications in Europe and Asia.