The Fiyoaree Island Council, in Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll, will lease a total of 429,480 square feet of Kaalhehuttaa islet as a tourism zone for 50 years, the council announced on Tuesday. Kaalhehuttaa is under the island council’s jurisdiction.

While the council is accepting bid registration forms starting Tuesday, the deadline for submissions is 16 November, the announcement said. The minimum rate per square foot of land per annum has been set at MVR 0.5, and bids will be accepted and opened on 30 November at the council office.

Fiyoaree Island Council President Faizar Rasheed told local media that, of the three islets under its jurisdiction, Kaalhehuttaa is the closest to Fiori in terms of proximity. According to the area’s land use plan, the islet has been allocated for agriculture and tourism use, he said.

An area of 5.6 hectares, out of the total 9.5-hectare islet, was leased for organic farming earlier this year with the remaining four hectares to be leased for tourism, Rasheed explained.

“We opened up the opportunity as a few parties have already expressed interest in developing a local tourism project there. The opportunity to bid allows us to lease it to the party that comes up with the best proposal within the given  parameters,” Rasheed said.

Given the growing popularity of Fiyoaree’s surfing and diving points among visitors and tourists, the head of the island council explained that the expansion of local tourism in the area would also create job opportunities and increase income for island residents.

Rasheed believes that local tourism can take off in the area, which is known for its archeological sites and many fevers of rays, especially given that the Faresmaathoda Airport now provides easy access for travellers to the destination.