A state-owned tourism company is evaluating bids for developing a picnic island for public use after reclaiming seven hectares from the Galufalhu lagoon near Malé.
The Maldives Integrated Tourism Development Corporation sought expressions of interest in late March and offered as an incentive a 50-year lease to develop a tourist resort on a portion of the reclaimed island.
An MITDC official told the Maldives Independent that the company is evaluating proposals but declined to provide further information.
The islands of Kuda Bandos and Feydhoo Finolhu, previously used as picnic islands by the residents of the congested capital city, were controversially leased for resort development. Malé lacks a natural beach and its thousands of inhabitants flock to the suburban islands of Hulhumalé and Vilimalé on weekends.
The Galufalhu lagoon is a five-minute boat ride from the capital island.
The requirements for the picnic island include capacity for 1,000 people at a time and twenty day-rooms, toilet blocks, a convenience shop, a restaurant, futsal pitches, volleyball courts and a water sports area.
The MITDC’s announcement noted that the acquisition cost for lagoons in the Malé region or close to the international airport can range between US$20 to US$50 million.
“However, as an incentive for the investor for the development of the picnic island on the proposed lagoon, with the minimum of the above detailed facilities, the investor will be allowed to bypass the [lagoon acquisition cost] and directly acquire the lagoon for a 50-year lease period,” reads the announcement, which has since been taken down from the company’s website.
The company enlisted Jones Lang LaSalle Property Consultants in Singapore as an advisory firm to receive proposals.
The MITDC was set up in August to promote the participation of small and medium-sized businesses in the lucrative tourism sector.
The company also appears to have restarted a stalled guesthouse island project on the island of Baresdhoo in Laamu atoll, which was inaugurated by President Abdulla Yameen in 2014. According to the MITDC website, the company is also exploring introducing integrated tourism to Addu City.