With the recent launch of integrated tourism and plans of enhancement for Gan International Airport, what positive impacts are to be expected on the southern region of Maldives?

PUBLISHED April 05, 2023

Abdulla Salih
Managing Director
I do not have full details of the Addu Integrated tourism project. However, if the project is implemented, I think it will bring positive impacts on the southern region of Maldives. Such as: 1. Increased employment opportunities in the region. Thereby improving the livelihoods of the local population. 2. The enhancement of the Gan International Airport can lead to improved connectivity and transportation facilities, which can boost tourism, trade and commerce in the region. 3. The growth of the tourism industry can increase the revenue generation for the government and the local businesses, which can contribute to the overall economic development of the southern region of Maldives.
Latest enhancements and developments at GAN certainly renew hopes for tourism in southern Maldives. However as Airline operators, we constantly indicate that domestic transfer cost from Velana to GAN makes southern Maldives one of the more expensive regions compared to identical products offered in Male’ atoll. I personally believe there has to be a fair share of tourism diverted to the south Maldives. Success story of Maldives Tourism should equally be enjoyed by North to South and certainly should not be secluded to one area or atoll. May it be private or government, above mentioned enhancements and developments in GAN comes at a cost. If these facelifted facilities can not be showcased to the visitors, what is the point in making investments for such facelifts? Hence, I see the need of an exclusive southern tourism promotion team comprising the Ministry / city councils / community leaders / airport / airlines/ resorts / guest houses / liveaboards. Dilute an exclusive and structured tourism promotion drive to the region with the help of the Ministry as well as MMPRC . Once the team commences the activities, lifestyle to the low income bracket of the local community, specifically the guesthouses and tourism SME would be uplifted. It would give a new meaning to the integrated enhancement plan. Otherwise, I don’t see the positive side of it without a structured plan to drive tourists to the south.
The southern region of Maldives boasts a plethora of enticing tourist experiences. By introducing integrated tourism to Hankede, Addu's appeal as a desirable tourist destination is expected to be further solidified. Furthermore, the proposed increase in tourist accommodation in the region has prompted GAN International Airport to improve its facilities and services to accommodate demand. This expansion is anticipated to attract a larger number of international flights to GAN, which will benefit the local tourism industry, businesses, and the residents. We are currently collaborating with Island Aviation to offer seamless and efficient domestic travel options to the southern Atolls via GAN. With these developments, we are optimistic that GAN will establish itself as the gateway to the southern Maldives.
First, I believe studying the concept to understand and explain in detail how such tourism development will fit here and evolve in the Maldives is important and in particular, its planning and policy. Study draws extensively on a critical analysis of the official plans for Maldives tourism development as we have also filed such concepts before. I believe we need more information and open up more in required details. As we all know, Maldives has a very well known Name but this may confuse our markets. It's better to plan and do the product presentation in the early days before it's too late.
Expansion and uplifting of services at GAN International Airport will undoubtedly boost the influx of tourists to all atolls in the southern region. Moreover, integrated tourism is a great value addition to the Maldives’ tourism product and when maintained sustainably, it will pave the way for a brighter future for community-based tourism.