Potential investors submitted “several bids with hefty acquisition proposals” for new islands on tender for resort development, the tourism ministry revealed in its weekly update.
The government invited bids to lease 18 uninhabited islands from 10 atolls in October 2021. Minimum lease acquisition costs between US$200,000 and US$1.5 million for the bids were by far the lowest proposed in a public tender for resort development.
“On average, the acquisiton cost proposals received were 250% higher than that set as the minimum lease acquisiton cost,” the tourism ministry said. “The highest acquisiton cost for an island was 929% higher than its minimum acquisiton cost.”
All of the islands on offer are outside the central atolls near Malé where most resorts are located. After 29 information for bids were purchased (at a price of US$3,250 for foreigners and US$2,250 for locals), 13 parties submitted 18 bids for nine islands. These include three bids for two islands from the northernmost atoll of Haa Alifu, two bids for an island in the southcentral Meemu Atoll, eight bids for two islands in the southcentral Faafu Atoll, one bid for an island in the southern Thaa Atoll, one bid for an island in the southern Gaafu Alifu atoll, and three bids for two islands in the southern Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll.
The tourism ministry expects to complete the evaluation process by the end of April.
The lack of interest in nine other islands on tender suggests a need to further review acquisition costs, the tourism ministry told parliament last week. In a previous bidding process earlier in 2021, only one of 23 islands on tender found an investor.