Resort Bids, Personal Loans, Record Profits

Thursday, January 26

The State Trading Organisation posted a record operating profit of MVR1 billion (US$64.8 million) for 2022. Record-breaking revenues of MVR18 billion for the year was up 79% from 2021. The annual profit of MVR789 million also represented a 52% increase from the previous year.

The state-owned behemoth is the country’s primary wholesaler, responsible for importing the vast majority of basic foodstuffs such as rice, flour, and sugar. STO subsidiaries also trade in petroleum, cooking gas, construction materials, medical supplies, pharmaceuticals, electronics, supermarket products and insurance.

Thursday, January 26

Wednesday, January 25

The Bank of Maldives increased the financing limit of its personal unsecured loan to MVR1.2 million (US$77,821).

“From today, the Bank will have a single ‘BML Lui Loan’ to cater for all personal borrowing requirements,” the bank explained. “BML Islamic Personal Financing will also offer customers Sharia’h compliant financing up to MVR 1.2 million which can be used to purchase products or as cash financing. With this change, the Bank will now consider salary as well as any other income for both Lui Loan and Personal Financing.”

Wednesday, January 25

The Maldives Ports Ltd added four new reach stacker vehicles to its terminal fleet in a bid to boost productivity at the Malé Commercial Harbour.

“These vehicles will be commissioned and ready to accommodate the high demand and traffic during the Ramazan period,” MPL said, referring to the fasting month due to begin in late March.

Tuesday, January 24

China was back among the top 10 source markets for tourists, just a week after the first direct flight from China to the Maldives since 2020. The first batch of Chinese tourists arrived on 18 January after a nearly three-year hiatus as China ended Covid-19 travel restrictions earlier this month.

A total of 3,146 Chinese holidaymakers visited during the week.

As of 24 January, the Maldives welcomed a total of 133,000 tourists, up 29% from the same period in 2022. Russia was the top market with 18,549 tourists – representing a market share of 14% – followed by Italy (13,615 tourists) and India (13,116 tourists). The average duration of stay was 8.1 days.

There are 168 resorts, 877 guesthouses, 157 safari vessels, and 13 hotels in operation with a combined bed capacity of 59,768.

Last week, the Chinese embassy in Malé announced that Chinese travel agencies and online travel operators have been authorised to resume “pilot outbound group tours for Chinese citizens” with effect on 6 February. The Maldives was among first group of countries authorised by the Chinese government.

The warm welcome accorded to the first group of Chinese tourists received widespread coverage in Chinese media, according to the embassy.

China was the largest source market before the pandemic with 284,029 holidaymakers in 2019, representing a 17% market share. After reopening borders, China no longer requires quarantines for returning travellers. 

Tuesday, January 24

Imports increased 27% in December compared to the same period in 2021. Exports were also up 35%. But the total of MVR356 million (US$23 million) collected as customs revenue during the month was down by 2%.

Monday, January 23

The tourism ministry announced public tendering for the “lease, development, operation and management” of new resorts on 14 uninhabited islands or plot of lagoons

With deadlines in late August, the ministry invited bids for the acquisition of leaseholder rights for 50 years. A 36-month construction period was offered with nine of the islands and lagoons available for reclamation. The minimum lease acquisition cost ranges from US$200,000 to US$2.5 million with the lowest rates for islands in the northernmost atolls of Haa Alif and Haa Dhaal. 

The announcement was made with a “special focus” on the north after the inauguration of a US$123 million project last week to upgrade the Hanimaadhoo International Airport, “which will need 8,000 tourist beds in coming years for smooth functioning” of the new hub, according to the tourism ministry.

With the exception of the Kaashidhoo lagoon in Kaafu Atoll, the other locations up for bidding are all outside the central region, including five islands in the southern atoll of Huvadhu (Gaaf Alif and Gaaf Dhaal). 

Aside from the proposed acquisition cost, the bid evaluation criteria includes higher scores for low carbon development and commitments to hire more local and female staff.

Monday, January 23

Sunday, January 22

The State Trading Organisation launched its annual Ramadan Sale with discounts on home and kitchen appliances at the STO People’s Choice supermarket.

On Tuesday, STO’s managing director unveiled plans to open the country’s first self-service store without sales persons or cashiers.

Sunday, January 22

The Maldives Transport and Contracting Company was enlisted to build causeways to connect the islands of Kalaidhoo and Dhabidhoo as well as Hithadhoo, Mendhoo and Kunahandhoo in Laamu Atoll. The combined cost of the projects was MVR236.2 million (US$15.3 million).

The state-owned company was also contracted to conduct a feasibility study on connecting the islands of Kooddoo and Villingili in Gaaf Alif Atoll via an overwater bridge.

During the week, the infrastructure ministry awarded projects to MTCC to upgrade the harbours of Kaafu Maafushi, Baa Dharavandhoo, Raa Dhuvaafaru, Thaa Buruni and Gaaf Dhaal Fiyoree, and to carry out coastal protection work in Shaviyani Funadhoo.

Construction began on 50 row houses to be built in Lhaviyani Hinnavaru. The design and build project was awarded to local construction company Dhonbez in July last year.