The Fuvahmulah City Council has pledged to keep the island’s beaches open to locals despite plans to develop local tourism.
Several plots of land around the famous white sand beach known as Thoondu in the northern end of the island are to be leased for the construction of guesthouses. The plans announced by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih last month prompted concern that the beach could be fenced off and reserved for tourists.
“We have seen some concerns raised on social media. Right now the process is still ongoing and if the public has concerns it will be address by the council,” Deputy Mayor Mohamed Liraar told the Maldives Independent,
He assured that the beach would remain open for public use.
Locals have been denied access to premium beach spots on several islands where guesthouse tourism has boomed over the last few years. The Fuvahmulah northern beach is used by locals for picnics and gatherings on special occasions.
Fuvahmulah Mayor Abdulla Falah also sought to allay concerns last week.
“Even though we open guesthouse tourism in that area, no area of the beach will be given for exclusive use. The difference in Fuvahmulah is that the Thoondu beach area is protected by law,” he told newspaper Mihaaru.
“So whether the council wants to do it or the tourism ministry wants to do it, it cannot be done.”
More than 35 hectares of the unique northern beach of the island were declared a protected area in late 2018 by the Environmental Protection Agency. The southern island’s well-known mangroves, lakes and parts of the connecting wetlands were also protected.
The city council also assured that public feedback would be sought about the development concept before a bidding process.
Developing 1,000 tourists beds in Fuvahmulah was a campaign pledge of President Solih. The city council plans to allocate land from a 200,000 square feet area near the beach. The area was handed over to the tourism ministry in 2007 for a failed city hotel project.
Fuvahmulah is not an island where you you have a near by uninhabited island to go for a picnic. Thoodu should always be for public, we do not want it to be fenced because of local tourism. @MDPSecretariat @HunuboliHussain pic.twitter.com/0NvfprunVh
— Island Tern (@IslandTern) July 31, 2019
— Fuvahmulah City Council (@FVMCouncil) August 12, 2019