Tourism Act needs to be amended for Addu resort to reopen

Minister of Tourism Dr. Abdulla Mausoom has stated that Shangri-La Villingili Resort in Addu City can only be reopened after bringing an amendment to the Tourism Act. He made the remarks at the Parliament of the Maldives while responding to questions regarding the delays in reopening Shangri-La Villingili Resort, which was closed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Responding to the questions, Minister Mausoom said that the government holds 30% of the shares of Shangri-La resort, and has worked to find numerous ways to reopen the resort. As such, the minister said discussions have been made to pass the 11th amendment to the Maldives Tourism Act to allow the government to buy more shares. He said the amendment would change the formula on the government’s acquisition of shares to make it more feasible to acquire the shares needed to reopen the resort, which currently exceeds USD80 million. He added the resort needs to have upmarket beds for tourism to grow in the southern region, as tourism products in the country currently do not offer upmarket beds.

After Minister Mausoom’s statement, Speaker of Parliament Mohamed Nasheed noted that the issue of the delay in reopening the resort has been debated numerous times in the Parliament and that amendments will be made to the relevant laws if needed. He, however, noted that some issues are not solved even after changes are made to laws.

Previously, Minister Mausoom said that the Shangri-La resort is a financial burden for the government, as it has to pay USD68 million for the loans taken to cover the damages of the non-operation of the resort. The tourism minister stated the plan is to reopen the resort as soon as possible but that the resort operator, Addu Investment Private Limited, has not been able to provide a timeline for the reopening of the resort.

The non-operation of the 284-bed Shangri-La Villingili Resort is a major concern for the people of Addu. As such, many have expressed concern that Addu is not able to reap the benefits of the growth in the tourism industry due to delays in making the resort operational again.