A brand new resort being constructed on the uninhabited island of Ismehela Hera in the southernmost Addu atoll will open in December, the developer has announced.
Moosa Didi, CEO of South Palm Maldives Pvt Ltd, told state broadcaster Public Service Media (PSM) on Sunday that 69 percent of the civil works have been completed. The resort will open in December with 100 beds, he added.
“Civil works at the island’s power house have been completed. Material required for other parts of the project are on their way. In the meantime, we’re making the necessary preparations,” Didi said.
The four-star resort is being developed in three phases, with the first phase covering 60 beach villas, 30 water villas and 20 ocean villas along with a restaurant, bar and spa. The second phase will bring the total number of rooms to 240, while the third phase involves linking the adjoining Kedevaahera island via a causeway and developing more water villas.
Didi noted that the resort will create 600-700 jobs, with 80 percent reserved for locals.
“Our contract staff are also mostly locals from neighbouring islands,” he said.
Development of a tourist resort on the island of Ismehela Hera has long been planned out with the project making headlines as recently as 2015 when the government announced that it was in talks with two foreign investors that had expressed interest in developing the island. Tourism minster Moosa Zameer told local journalists at the time that the resort would have at least 600 beds.
The announcement was followed by the launch of Ismehela Hera Integrated Resort Development Project on April 28, 2015 by President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom. No progress, however, was made.
Meanwhile, government last year revealed that a local company had won the bid for the island and had paid the acquisition cost.
The latest initiative to develop Ismehela Hera is part of a new push by the government to develop tourism in the southernmost Addu. A state owned enterprise has separately launched a project to develop 3,000 guesthouse beds in Addu to cater to backpackers and budget travellers.
Maldives, known world over for its upmarket tourism industry, has resorts in the hundreds spread across the archipelago. The industry has in recent years expanded to introduce more affordable segments, including guesthouses and liveaboards.
Despite several new resort developments and a boom in guesthouse tourism in the Maldives, Addu as a whole has lagged behind for years in attracting tourism-related investments. The relatively large atoll, which has unique geographical features compared to other parts of the island nation, is home to only two of the some 120 tourist resorts in the Maldives; Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort and Spa, and Canareef Resort Maldives.
However, tourism in the south has recently received a much needed boost from the launch of direct flights to Gan International Airport by SriLankan Airlines.
Neighbouring Sri Lanka’s flagship carrier, which is particularly popular amongst tourists who travel to the Maldives from Europe, currently operates six weekly flights to Gan from Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo.