The administration will provide concessions to those who will forfeit islands leased for tourism development where no work has been undertaken, Minister of Tourism Ibrahim Faisal has said.

During a televised interview, the Minister stated that upon assuming his portfolio, he had looked into the islands that had not yet been operational, which, according to the Ministry, totalled 63.

According to Faisal, there are some islands leased for tourism 30 years ago that have yet to be developed or become operational.

A paper has been submitted to the Economic Council and two options have been approved, one of which is the hand over of islands to the state without any pre-conditions, he said.

“Then concessions will be arranged in consultation with Finance [Ministry] and MIRA [Maldives Inland Revenue Authority] for the amounts of money they owe to the state,” Faisal said.

Minister Faisal said the council has also approved a procedure to deal with islands where work has started to some extent but has stalled due to various reasons. This will include assistance in sourcing investment funds and assistance towards selling the investment to another party.

“For example, where 50 or 60 percent of the work has been done. We are discussing with those who have not done so due to lack of funds, if an investor wants to take over the island, we will change the headlease,” the Minister stated.

Faisal explained that this will be done by amending the law and that special consideration will be given to finding a solution to the issue. A large number of these islands will be opened for tourism within the next five years, he assured.

Around 12 to 15 new resorts will open this year, adding 2,600 beds to the country’s tourism industry, Faisal said.