The tourism ministry has announced plans to build Chinese-friendly hotels and resorts in the Maldives to cater to increasing tourist arrivals from China.
Tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb leased the island of Kalhufahalufushi in Thaa Atoll for resort development to the China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC).
The global engineering contractor is set to become the first Chinese company to invest in the Maldives and in the tourism industry.
Maldivian resorts were designed to cater to European holiday makers, Adeeb said. But with the new deal “Chinese tourists will see hotels that are designed for them. But tourists from other countries will also go there.”
The number of Chinese tourists visiting the Maldives tripled from about 100,000 in 2010 to more than 300,000 last year.
With a total of 363,626 arrivals in 2014, Chinese tourists accounted for nearly one-third of arrivals with a 30 percent market share, representing the single biggest source market for tourists to the Maldives.
Adeeb said CMEC will now undertake a feasibility study and propose its development concept and other details to the government, adding that a lease agreement will be signed before the end of the year.
The tourism minister said he expects CMEC to invest at least US$200 million in the Maldives.
He also said islands leased by the current administration for resort development will open for business in 2016.
Adeeb claimed development is proceeding rapidly due to concessions from the government, such as waiving import duties for construction material and providing sovereign guarantees for foreign loans.