Business - INTERVIEW
Managing Director of MITDC,
Maldives Integrated Tourism Development Corporation
Interview of Szilvia Szeszler
During our visit to the Republic of Maldives we were very lucky to meet with the Managing Director of a Tourism Ministry Organization, the Maldives Integrated Tourism Development Corporation and we could got to know those two large-scale projects they are actually working on. We asked Mr. Mohamed Raaidh about the details of these and the activity of their corporation.
- Would you introduce us and describe the activity of MITDC and your work within the organization?
MITDC is a 100 % government state owned enterprise mandated with the development of integrated tourism in the Maldives. I was appointed by the new government on 2019 January as the Managing Director of the company. Our main focus is to create opportunities in local islands where tourism has yet not been exploited. By doing so we intend to involve the community in the introduction and development of local tourism in those respective islands to reap both economic and social benefits from the industry. Currently Maldives is renowned for its one island one resort concept, offering luxurious service and exceptional natural beauty. MITDC aims to broaden the tourism market for the Maldives by tapping in to a promising community based tourism sector which is more appealing for the mid market sector allowing a budget friendly experience of paradise.
Currently we have a couple of projects that we have undertaken, one is the development of integrated tourism in Laamu atoll Baresdhoo. It is an 80 hector island where the plan is to build a self sustained tourist destination consisting of hotels, beach villas, a golf course, F&B outlets and other auxiliary services. Individual villas planned to be built near the coastline will be offered for sale at a mid market range. Interested foreigners can own these semi luxury units that will be designed to provide maximum comfort. The island is accessible by speed boat from a near by domestic airport where regular flights land from the main international airport of the country. Baresdhoo offers the same untouched natural beauty that can be found all across the country with great dive spots nearby the island.
- Can international companies take part in this project?
Yes, we wish to establish a joint venture partnership with a development company. A fair stake of the project will be offered for the right investment.
- Aren’t you afraid that international companies take out the profit?
As mentioned before, a fair agreement will be made between both parties. As the local partner of the joint venture agreement, MITDC will secure the agreed share and the foreign investor will be given assurance that the the agreed terms will be met.
- Who will be the guests, who are targeted to spend their holiday here?
The aim is to open up a mid market segment in Maldives tourism industry. Therefore this concept will attract the attention of budget conscious travellers to come and enjoy the beauty of the Maldive islands.
- This is very special, I haven’t seen this kind of system anywhere on the Maldives till now.
Yes, something very special. The concept is ready and we need partners to invest with us; an estimated $110 million is required to make the dream a reality.
- If some party joins you do you let them to change the plans?
Yes, they can change, we are ready to change some of the designs according to their wish. You know, now we have 154 plus resorts on the Maldives and some of them were designed by foreign parties, not only by the local parties. So if the investors may need to change, we are ready to welcome their blends too. There are opportunities to invest and develop.
- What other projects are you just working on nowadays?
MITDC is planning to host a sailing event, “Savaaadheeththa Dhathuru” next year February inviting sailors all across the globe to participate in a journey across the Maldives seas, making stops at local islands, exploring the heritage, experiencing the famous dive sights, sand banks etc. The journey begins from the most northern atoll of the country HA alif atoll, taking a course of 3 weeks to reach baa atoll. It is designed to visit a total of 11 inhabited islands.
Please visit the event website for more information: maldivesyachtrally.com
- Is this a competition or rather an event?
No, It is not a competition but a sailing rally to discover the cultural aspects of this beautiful nation. Most of the islands that will be visited during this rally is home to some of the most significant heritage sights in the country.
Here is the promotional video for the rally; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iK9k2oN0Bs4
You can go and stay with the local community and maybe you have a better holiday by this. The local island tourism is something very new. The statistic shows that we have 156 resorts in operation now but we have 524 guest houses on the local islands, this is a very good number. That means 38 000 beds totally in the resorts and 11 000 beds in the guest houses. The main problem is that these beds are in the Capital Male area only, in a two-hour radius, the 79 %, while the North and the South is still neglected.
- If these farer territories would be involved, would that be profitable enough? I mean they can be reached only by planes.
Exactly, that’s the reason; because we do not have developed international airports there. So the Government’s strategy is first to upgrade 2 airports (Hanimaadhoo International Airport in the north and Gan International Airport in the south) to cater for direct international markets. This will enhance the tourism segment into these 2 regions.
That is the only option, because if you arrive to Capital Male, after a long air travel, you do not want to take an other domestic flight, you would like to arrive into the hotel within half an hour or 45 minutes latest which is understandable. That is the geographic advantage of the central territories. A tourist maximum can bear a 1,5 hour travel from Male and not 4 or 5 hours more. The Government’s strategy is to develop these two areas because these island in the South and North are really beautiful and if the flights can come directly here, these areas can be developed.
- Where do you plan to build domestic airports?
I think these projects has already been started, things depend on the investment. Why are organizing such a Yacht really first of all, to introduce the beauty of these hardly known rural islands; the beauty of nature and our culture and hopefully we will be able to get a good feedback and a good participation, across the globe.