Gov’t. on course to expand tourism in southern atolls

The Government’s tourism sector development goals include the expansion of tourism in the south of the country.

Under the effort, the Government is further developing Gan International Airport, and has already set up a seaplane base to ease transportation in the southern region.

The seaplane base in Gan International Airport was developed under the Government’s bid to further expand tourism in the country’s southernmost atolls that include Gaafu Alifu, Gaafu Dhaalu, Fuvahmulah City, and Addu City. 43 years since the introduction of tourism in the country, the Government has faced many difficulties in expanding tourism in the southern atolls. One of the challenges was the transportation of tourists to Addu City from Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA), which was also one of the reasons behind the failure of some early tourism ventures in the area.

As part of its plan to address the challenge and further expand tourism in the southern region, the Government began a mega-development project, which included the expansion of Gan International Airport and development of a seaplane base. The runway at Gan International Airport was expanded from 2,550 meters to 3,600 meters. The airport operator earlier said the runway expansion would allow the airport to accommodate larger aircraft such as the Boeing 777, and they were in discussions with international airlines to bring direct flights into Gan. Increased international flights would allow tourists booking their holidays with resorts in the southern atolls to fly direct to Gan and take scenic seaplane rides to their respective resort destinations in the region, it said.

The seaplane service will be provided by Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA), which is the largest seaplane operator in the world. TMA will also use a 50-seat bus to ferry tourists between the airport terminal and the seaplane base. A 2-kilometer road was also developed around the runway between the airport and the seaplane terminal.

A total of 9 tourist resorts are currently in operation in the four southern atolls, while another 10 are currently at different stages of development. Gaaf Alif Atoll has 5 resorts, with a total of 720 beds, while Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll has 2 resorts with a bed capacity of 390. Two more resorts are being operated out of Addu City, with a combined bed capacity of 826.