…..it’s a time when the transfer of power and therefore, it’s a time where we are coming up with our, when it started the amounts and types of investments required at that time was very low and therefore, the types of establishments established in the Maldives, to start with, were affordable to a wide variety of people from all over the world. But as we moved along during the 90s the industry geared itself to a more upmarket concept and that has squeezed, in a sense, the middle market out of the country.
One of the policies that we want to start and implement is to develop a mid market bracket in the country. We also feel that we have not been able to tap on the social benefits of tourism mainly through tourist integrations with the local community. So we would be looking at means and ways of trying to integrate or trying to have an impact of the tourists on the community. We want a community based tourism which basically would translate to a certain number of guest houses on inhabited islands. In the past tourists were not allowed to travel to other inhabited islands. Tourists were very much restricted on the resort island.
We also have in the pipeline to develop a more comprehensive inter-island transport system. That would also serve the tourist resorts as much as the other inhabited islands. We also have a policy of developing a certain amount of luxury villas. The government is providing concessions for luxury villas, as a concession on community housing.
So basically what we are suggesting is if you are willing to build a certain amount of housing units and sell it to the locals, than you would be awarded a concession to develop.
Our point of coming here today is not really for me to be going on and on about anything, but rather listen to you and see how best we may be able to, if need be, bring changes to policy or bring any change necessary.
You would all have heard that the Maldives aims to become carbon neutral in the next ten years.
We understand that this is economically a difficult period. But we also feel that people will need to come down to their actual size and be productive instead of living in bubbles. In a sense, we have braced ourselves for the downturn in income that will be realised this year. We have made our sums accordingly and basically we have hope that by the end of this year, when we come out we would be much stronger.
Now, the Maldives tourism industry has been very resilient. We have gone through a black Monday, we have gone through two Gulf wars, we have gone through 9/11, and we have faced a tsunami. But we seem to bounce back very strongly.
Lastly I would like to point out that one resort with British investments - Soneva Fusi - aim to be carbon neutral very soon. My understanding or my belief is that very soon in European countries, you would be rushing through legislation. It might not happen during the next five or ten years, but soon, European countries would legislate to ration carbon emission. And if we can be in a situation where we can be more attractive through our carbon neutral policy then we would want to capture that comparative advantage. The Maldives is also a very beautiful country and we have a lot of natural beauty and resources.