Ministry of Tourism has revealed that it will invite bids next week for the development of three new resorts in the northernmost region of the Maldives. The ministry stated that the region needs 8,000 tourist beds in the coming years for the smooth functioning of Hanimaadhoo International Airport.
President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and Indian Minister of External Affairs Dr. S. Jaishankar inaugurated the Hanimaadhoo International Airport Development Project on January 20. The largest project to be conducted in the north of the country is being funded by loan assistance from the EXIM Bank of India and includes major infrastructure and operational upgrades and building infrastructure to meet the future growth of traffic to the Maldives. The project was awarded to India-based JMC Projects Limited in September 2022 at a cost of USD136 million. It includes developing a 2.46km runway to enable larger aircraft such as Airbus A320s and Boeing 737s to land at the airport. It also includes the construction of a modern terminal to accommodate 1.3 million passengers annually, as well as the construction of a cargo terminal, fuel farms, and a fire station.
The government has stated the completion of the project in 2024 will facilitate the expansion of tourism in the northernmost region by increasing the number of tourist arrivals, resorts, city hotels, and guesthouses. The project is also expected to increase business and employment opportunities in the northern atolls. The development of the airport will also play an important role in implementing the government's plans to establish a modern maritime hub in the north of the country that will provide services to large cargo ships travelling along the main shipping routes of the world.
The government stated that one of the biggest challenges facing the development of tourism in the north of the Maldives is the lack of direct flights to the region and the high cost of transportation required to visit the region. Hanimaadhoo International Airport is located on the island of Hanimaadhoo in Haa Dhaalu Atoll. The airport was upgraded in 2012 to cater to international flights.