Maldives government has awarded a contract to Gulf Cobla Tennssor Maldives to reclaim land for a new domestic airport on the island of Fares-Maathoda in Gaafu Dhaal atoll.
At a ceremony held at tourism ministry last week, tourism minister Moosa Zameer and Gulf Cobla Tennssor Maldives Managing Director Ahmed Michael signed an agreement for the project, which involves reclamation of 16.3 hectares of land and shore protection.
Minister Zameer told reporters that the planned airport on Fares-Maathoda and the recently announced airport on the island of Maavarulu in Gaafu Dhaal atoll will open up one of the most remote atolls in the country. These new airports will boost tourism in the region, he added.
“There are many islands in Gaafu Alif and Gaafu Dhaal atoll that can be developed as resorts. But transportation has always been the biggest hurdle,” the minister said.
Gulf Cobla Tennssor Maldives, a joint venture between Dubai-based dredging contractor Gulf Cobla and Maldivian civil contractor Tennssor Holdings, has been tasked to complete the project in 90 days.
Development of Fares-Maathoda airport is funded through an interest free loan of USD 4 million from local tourism tycoon Champa Mohamed Moosa. USD 2.5 million from the concessional loan will be spent on land reclamation and shore protection, while the remaining funds will be used to build a runway and terminal.
Over a million tourists from across the globe visit the Indian Ocean island nation every year to holiday in one of the 120 resorts and 400 plus guesthouses located in all corners of the country. The multi-billion dollar tourism industry, which is the country’s main economic activity, relies heavily on the domestic transport infrastructure, especially air travel.
Maldives, the most dispersed country on the planet with 1,192 islands spread over roughly 90,000 square kilometres, already has 11 airports, including three international airports. The government has contracted both local and international companies to develop additional domestic airports across the archipelago in a bid to boost tourism.