Optimism over Viceroy resort in Maldives despite unrest

A resort owned by Abu Dhabi, the Viceroy hotel, is to set to open in the Maldives despite violent political unrest.

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A resort owned by Abu Dhabi is to open in the Maldives despite violent political unrest.

Mubadala Development, a strategic investment company owned by the Abu Dhabi Government, owns 50 per cent of the hotel management company Viceroy Hotel Group and is planning to open the Viceroy hotel in the Maldives in April.

The hotel, like most resorts in the archipelago, is on a remote island away from the capital island of Malé, where violent protests have erupted and the president has resigned.

Despite the distance, some authorities are concerned about the impact on the tourism industry.

But the operator believes that its resort, which charges up to US$17,500 (Dh64,281) a night for a three-bedroom villa, will not be affected.

"We're hopeful that it's a blip and it is something [that] will be very quickly resolved, and [that] by the time of our opening the situation will be stable," said Anton Bawab, the regional president at Viceroy.

The resort is on the private island of Vagaru, about 190 kilometres from Malé.

The property comprises 61 villas on a 17-acre crescent surrounded by coral reefs.

Mr Bawab said work on the hotel was going ahead.

"In terms of delaying the opening, the political situation has little impact," he said.

According to the Maldives Association of Tourism Industry, there have been more than 500 booking cancellations, and losses are expected to reach about $100 million over the next six months.

"Potential visitors are questioning the safety and security in the island nation, as the political turmoil in the Maldives makes headlines in the international media," the association told AFP.

Tourism is a mainstay of the economy, with many of the resorts charging well over $1,000 a night.

The Maldives' GDP last year totalled $1.48 billion and tourism directly contributed 29 per cent. Its indirect contribution is far higher. China has become the biggest source of visitors to the Maldives.

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