Chairman of SIMDI and CEO’s, Managers, and also all those who are present here today, a very good morning.
As we all know, we make our living through tourism, we make our living through tourism and we make our living through fisheries. None of us actually makes a living through the government, out of that a very few people who are paid by the government.
But it is of course the private sector that is the engine that drives income. If we are so naïve as not to recognize that, I myself see how we maybe able to have a proper development study. We always have considered onto the years, companies like SIMDI and other investors in the Maldives as our development partners, not just simply as the private sector.
We have formed our Strategic Action Plan, we have formulated our manifesto’s, our policies and we are incorporating them with the private sector at the heart of it.
There are many government enterprises that this government is in the process of privatizing and corporatizing. We believe that it is not the business of the government to be in business. But it is the business of businessmen or entrepreneurs to develop business and industry. It is the function of the government to regulate that. It is the function of the government to assist and we will try our best to do that.
And we will try our best to create opportunities and we will try our best to make regulations easier, we will also try our best so that we can advertise and publish in this country.
SIMDI has been pointed out, is at the forefront of the industry for the last 30 years or more. The company has been formed, as pointed out in the late 1970’s but later on 1980’s was restructured again, and now again we see them rising, very strong and flourishing.
I congratulate the company and its staff.
We have a fair amount of people, partners in the company, partners and suppliers here today, representing an executive in the fair. I would like to point out that we have to have to understand the importance of logistics and suppliers in this industry. We are only able to sell the sun and the sand, because there is an army of logistics and supplies people working behind the scenes that make this product and this service possible. We are now seeing that that art is organizing itself along international lines, along progressive ways on how they may make their service and they may further make their business more effective.
Maldives being an island nation, spread across 800isles, and the resorts being built on separate islands means that each island has to become a government in itself. Each island has to have a power house, each island has to have a water plant, each island has to have a sewerage system, and each island has to have a transport system. In any other country, or society these infrastructures would be centrally provided. Therefore logistics become so much more important in our industry. Companies like SIMDI have been working in logistics and supplies and they have been able to assist many in the industry to flourish as they are doing now. Just ask me, or these people rather, I thank members of the Maldivian tourism industry again, they are concerned about the present ways and trends.
Our role is very, very good this year compared to 2009 this has been a very good year.. Maldivian tourism is very resilient to international shocks. We’ve gone through many tsunamis, black Monday’s, recessions, downturns and we always seem to bounce back very, very rapidly. One of the secrets and one of the reasons why this is happening is I believe, because of logistics and supplies companies like SIMDI, who are always able to change, able to adjust, able to structure and able to move on. This has happened many times during the last 20-30 years and every time I am glad to say this industry has always bounced back. We are again rising after the recession and as I just mentioned things are extremely good now. But I am told by experts, during the 80’s when Maldivian tourism started flourishing in its second stage of growth, our market was mainly a mid market. Not the exclusive resorts that we see here in the Maldives. Right now I am told that the bulk of the resorts, almost all of them cater to a very high end, exclusive market. And therefore we have risen out of a very big sector of this industry, which is the mid market or the middle market.
In the 80’s we had a lot of tourists who were teachers, lawyers and professionals who had a very good and satisfying holiday here in the Maldives. Who spent a day in the Maldives for around 60-70dollars at that time in the 80’s and that holiday was very much within their needs. Because of government policies this industry has left or rather neglected this whole sector of the market. It is our intention again of this government to start working with the mid-market. To do this we have tabled a piece of legislation in the Parliament that will change lease rent to become a land rent. That would also change red light tax to become a land labeled tax from goods and services. We believe that these changes could free the industry to rise as they feel and need not depend on the rent they have to pay now. Sometimes, some of us are paying the government to the tune of 20,000 dollars a day, this is an exorbitant price and therefore we just have an exclusive very high end market. When we are able to change that rent to a land tax where the land rent would be fixed whatever the price that the entrepreneur of the resort is setting, then we believe it would give the resort a chance to build a mid-market. I hope that with the mid market creating we will have another sector in the tourism industry that will call for more logistics and will call for more supplies. And therefore companies like SIMDI who are at the forefront of logistics and supplies would be able to assist the new growth. We are also grateful and we do understand the highly fixed cost in this industry.
This is because the resort developers have to develop the whole infrastructure of the resorts. The government has now started utility companies, regional utility companies and the government has invited all resorts to join in partnership with the utilities companies to provide water, electricity, transport and other utilities to the resorts so the government and the resorts will be able to get benefits from the economic scale by going into a network. We are now able to, although the islands are separated by the sea, we have technology that is capable of connecting these islands through pipelines, cables and whatever else that is necessary and required. Some such work is already going out and I hope this work, will catch up and will benefit this industry.
Before I end, I again thank SIMDI Company for all the very good development efforts they have contributed to this country.
Like Mr. Didi here, we have a whole range of other people who have been contributing to the country.
I would also like to thank Tour Operators who have been investing in the Maldives for the last so many years, and I also have to say that the returns from their investments have been very, very handsome and I would like to say that I hope that they continue to receive these very handsome and luxurious returns and we will have government policies so that people are able to regenerate their money, and people are able to breather and without obstruction make money.
We are a centralized government and we believe in profit. We believe that profit is for the benefit of the people. We want to see our nation develop vicinities, of course at the same time develop protection programs for the needy and the poor. To do that we have to make sure that private sector companies make good profit and pay good taxes to the government.
Thank you very much for inviting me here today, it gives me great pleasure to open this Fair, not only because the Indians are neighbors and because I’ve known them since I was very little.
And again, thank you very much.