President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on Sunday praised the hard work and determination of the pioneers of tourism in the Maldives for revolutionising the industry. He made the remark while speaking at the Golden Jubilee Award Ceremony organised by the Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) to mark the 50th anniversary of tourism in the Maldives. First Lady Fazna Ahmed attended the ceremony along with the President.
President Solih said that the Maldives holds ground at the forefront of international tourism markets today due to the hard work and determination of the industry pioneers. He recognised the success of the tourism industry’s founders, who had to overcome numerous challenges in shaping the industry to what it is today, and acknowledged those who are currently involved in realising these goals. He emphasised the government’s willingness to contribute to the progress of tourism by listening to the industry’s stakeholders.
The President also highlighted the numerous challenges encountered during the COVID-19 pandemic and revealed that MATI was one of the very first groups he met with after the news of the pandemic broke. President Solih said that closing Maldives' borders was one of the most difficult decisions by far and that many had opposed the government's decision to reopen its borders in July, 2020. He noted that the decision was pivotal to reviving the country's economy.
President Solih spoke about the administration’s efforts to diversify its economy, including amending necessary laws to facilitate economic revival. He assured that the administration would work towards making arrangements that would facilitate the growth of the sector.
The President stressed the challenges faced in the development of tourism, and noted that the government was actively working towards increasing the capacity of Velana International Airport (VIA) to keep pace with the industry’s growth. He said the completion of the VIA passenger terminal, which is currently under construction, would increase the terminal's capacity to 7.2 million passengers per year, adding that the development of more airports in the atolls would help broaden tourism reach.
At the ceremony, President Solih distributed awards to industry pioneers and people who have contributed to the development of the sector. He also thanked the industry pioneers who are still involved in the development of the tourism sector in the Maldives.
The Golden Jubilee Award Ceremony, organised by the MATI, was held at the Kurumba Maldives Resort, which was the first resort to open in the Maldives.