The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Chairperson Fayyaz Ismail has urged the Mohamed Muizzu administration to begin development of the Hankede Integrated Resort project, which, according to Ismail, holds significant potential for the development of tourism in Addu. The project should move forward, he said, going on to imply that the current administration could even take ownership of the project, originally proposed by the MDP, by moving forward with a name change.

Fayyaz said the Ibrahim Mohamed Solih administration, of which he was Economic Minister, had invested nearly MVR 500 million in Addu. Noting that tourism is one of the most important factors for the development of the region, Ismail said all the necessary preparations have been made to initiate the project.

“We have designed, found a contractor, signed with the contractor, signed an agreement with China Merchant Bank and everything is done. Five months have passed and we still haven’t started it. We have signed [agreements for] the US$145 million Hankedai project, everything has been finalised,” Ismail said.

In order to make the project a success, Hankede has been sectioned off by a bridge and converted into a separate island, he said, adding that it had been an important consideration for the MDP. He called for the project to begin soon, even if the name should undergo a change.

“Change the name of Hankede to Raajookeda if you must but start [the project] soon. Start it soon. Or call it Asseyri, or whatever, just start it soon ” Ismail said in a sardonic plea to the Muizzu administration.

The MDP administration had also reclaimed five more areas in Addu, promoted guesthouse tourism, and developed the Addu airport, in addition to increasing the number of beds in the region, Ismail said.

China National Electrical Engineering Company (CNEC) has been awarded the contract to develop the Hankede Integrated Tourism Concept which was set to be carried out through a loan of US$142.9 million (MVR 2.3 billion) from the China Merchant Bank.

The project is expected to add 2,082 tourism beds to Addu.