Vice President Faisal Naseem on Wednesday stated that, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of tourism in the Maldives this year, we must address the myriad of problems we face in guaranteeing inclusive community development and transforming people’s livelihoods. According to the Vice President, the administration aims to make the Maldives a more accessible and inclusive tourist destination for all.
The Vice President made these remarks while speaking at the opening of the “UNWTO Global Summit on Community-based Tourism,” held at CROSSROADS Maldives. The Summit, jointly organised by the Ministry of Tourism and the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), would feature discussions on the contribution of community-based tourism to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and the accompanying challenges and opportunities.
Speaking at the ceremony, the Vice President shed light on the history of Maldives’ tourism and the various obstacles tourism pioneers had to overcome to revolutionise the Maldivian economy. “Today, we are proud of the accomplishments of the pioneers and those who followed in their footsteps in making the Maldives a trusted brand worldwide,” he said.
Giving an overview of the current efforts to boost tourism further, the Vice President remarked that the administration has rapidly scaled up infrastructural development. In this regard, he added that over the last three and a half years, the administration had opened 426 tourism facilities, increasing the capacity by over 14,000 beds. He also noted that there are currently 107 resorts in various phases of development across the country, with 22 new properties expected to open by the end of 2023. He went on to say that the capacity would expand by approximately 5,000 beds due to these additions.
The Vice President also emphasised the Covid-19-led downturn in the Maldives’ tourism sector and economy. He lauded President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s vision and leadership in guiding the Maldives towards resilience and recovery. He noted that, although the road to recovery is long and building a resilient economy will be challenging, we must maximise the potential of our tourism industry for inclusive development. In this regard, the Vice President stated that we must do more to support our collective efforts to protect the environment and to adopt innovative approaches to using and sharing the benefits of innovation in a fair and equitable manner across our communities.
The Vice President also stated that innovative solutions are needed to reverse the slow development of micro and small enterprises. He stressed the importance of rebuilding the tourism sector in a safe, equitable, and climate-friendly manner, ensuring that tourism again serves as a source of decent jobs, stable incomes, and the protection of our cultural and natural heritage.